With the inauguration of US President Joe Biden on Wednesday last week, the people and government of Taiwan can breathe a sigh of relief. For the next four years, they will not have to worry about being used as a “bargaining chip” in US-China relations.
Immediately after former US president Donald Trump took office in January 2017, there was a flurry of worry and debate about whether Trump would somehow use Taiwan as a bargaining chip for a better “deal” in his administration’s dealings and negotiations with Beijing. Four years later, the Biden administration has much to achieve when it comes to Taiwan-US relations, but the bargaining chip fears can go away.
Would Trump use Taiwan as a bargaining chip in trade negotiations? Would Trump give China a free pass over military escalation? These questions and others undoubtedly kept government officials in Taipei up at night.
The pages of the Taipei Times and other newspapers consistently had articles wondering whether and how Taiwan could be used as bargaining chip. Whenever there was a development over the US-China trade dispute, the next conversation was almost always about how Taiwan might be used as a bargaining chip.