China has said the U.S. could abandon Taiwan under a second Trump presidency.
“The United States will always pursue ‘America First,’ and Taiwan will change from a ‘chess piece’ to an ‘abandoned piece’ at any time,” Chen Binhua, the spokesperson of Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said on Wednesday.
Chen was responding to a journalist’s questions about former President Donald Trump’s comments in a July interview about Taiwan’s dominance in the semiconductor supply chain and his apparent unwillingness to commit to the defense of Taiwan.
In a July interview with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo, Trump, the leading contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, had criticized Taiwan for dominating the semiconductor industry.
“We used to make our own chips, now they’re made in Taiwan—90 percent of the chips,” said Trump, when answering the host’s question on the geopolitical risks of Taiwan being a target of China’s aggression. “Taiwan, they took our business away. We should have stopped them. We should have taxed them. We should have tariffed them,”
Trump’s comments on Taiwan’s defense—”If I answer that question, it will put me in a very bad negotiating position”—reflected the intricate play of deterrence between Washington, Taipei and Beijing, but the immediate pivot to its semiconductor industry drew some criticism at the time.
“President Trump’s comments will be received happily in Beijing,” Brian Hart, a fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ China Power Project, recently told Newsweek. “Chinese actors have been using social media and other means to spread doubt about U.S. reliability among Taiwan’s public.”
The Chinese Communist Party government in Beijing claims self-ruled Taiwan is its territory, despite never having governed there. Chinese officials framed the island’s recent election, which handed the China-skeptic Democratic People’s Party an unprecedented third term, as a choice between peace or war.
Newsweek sent a request for comments to Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, the primary office on relations with China, but has yet to receive a reply at the time of publication. Newsweek has also contacted the Trump campaign for comment.
Taiwan is a leading assembler and supplier of semiconductor technologies. The chip supply chain functions through a distributed network of companies in which Taipei plays a central role.
“They didn’t ‘take’ our chip business, they outcompeted us in certain areas, and it has paid off for them,” said Hart. “Taiwan is a crucial economic partner for the United States, and an indispensable node in electronics supply chains. An attack on Taiwan would be devastating for the global economy, so the U.S. has material interests in Taiwan’s security.”
In response to Trump’s comments, Taiwan Economic Affairs Minister Wang Mei-hua emphasized the strong business partnership between Taiwan and the United States, particularly in the semiconductor industry.
Speaking at the Legislative Yuan in July, Wang reframed the relationship as a partnership rather than a rivalry, highlighting the interdependence and mutual benefits of U.S.-Taiwan economic ties.
In another interview with Fox Business in March 2022, Trump had suggested that China might invade Taiwan, citing perceived weaknesses in U.S. leadership. The former president said he expected Beijing to invade Taiwan sooner rather than later “because they’re seeing how stupid the United States is run.”
“Taiwan is going to be next. Just watch Taiwan; President Xi is watching with glee,” he said.
Former President Donald Trump stands on stage during a campaign event at Big League Dreams Las Vegas on January 27, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. China has hinted that Trump could abandon Taiwan if elected….
David Becker/Getty Images News/iStock
Uncommon Knowledge Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.
Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.