It is this type of activity, Wu said, that necessitated the sale of arms to Taiwan from the U.S., a recurring cause of tension between Beijing and Washington but one that Trump has authorized. Wu also credited senior American officials for frequently speaking out in favor of Taiwan. In the lead-up to November’s election, China appears to be a central theme for Trump and the Democratic challenger, Joe Biden. Both have accused each other of being weak on China, with Biden highlighting Trump’s seesawing statements that move between praising Chinese President Xi Jinping and shifting blame to Beijing.
Taiwan, Wu said, was enjoying bipartisan support in Washington, something he expected to continue. “In the last couple of years, we see that the majority of people in Washington, D.C., the majority of the policy community, the majority of the members of the Hill are supportive of Taiwan,” Wu said. “We enjoy support from both sides of the aisle, so we feel very comfortable that even if there is going to be a change of administration in Washington, D.C., I’m very sure that our relations with the United States will continue to be very good.”
Still, the support of the U.S., while welcome, remains informal. The American government does not officially recognize Taiwan, and countries that do have been in short supply since Tsai took office in 2016. In September, prior to her reelection, the Solomon Islands switched its diplomatic allegiance to Beijing. Days later, the Pacific nation of Kiribati did the same, leaving Taiwan with just over a dozen countries with which it maintains diplomatic relations. Wu said it was difficult to watch former allies embrace Beijing, arguing that many were not doing so because of any strategic reasoning, but because “China is putting cash directly in the pockets of dirty politicians.” Some of those countries, he said, were experiencing regrets over their decisions, finding that Beijing’s “rosy promises are empty promises.”
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After initially declining to name specific countries, Wu said that the Dominican Republic, which broke with Taiwan in May 2018, appeared to be cooling on China, and there were some very early signals that some there would like to see it switch allegiances again. The Caribbean island has historical ties to Taiwan—immigrants from there and Hong Kong began arriving in the 1980s to establish businesses and manufacturing plants.
When the Dominican Republic cut ties with Taiwan, Reuters reported that China offered billions of dollars in investments to encourage the switch. Over the past three years, “many people have started missing Taiwan because the Chinese authorities are not doing any type of proper assistance to this country,” Wu told me. “What they see is there is a new boss that is dictating the country around, and they don’t feel comfortable over this.”