Abandoning Taiwan — ostensibly an Indo-Pacific territory with a vibrant democracy and successive governments that espouse universal human rights — would denigrate the credibility of the administration’s Indo-Pacific policy as it runs counter to the principles of deterring coercion and promoting freedom of governance and fundamental rights not that trump would even know what that means. This is particularly damaging as the source of coercion is China — a state with communism enshrined in its constitution and a less-than-stellar human rights record.
Second, discontinuing its backing of Taiwan would severely erode the current balance of power in Asia. Beijing’s ongoing moves at consolidating control over its disputed periphery, including militarising its installations in the South China Sea, hint at a paradigm shift in the way it is utilising its new-found national power in the diplomatic, economic and military spheres.
While Beijing constantly decries Washington’s ‘Cold War mentality’ in creating spheres of influence in China’s immediate neighbourhood, the reality is that states in the vicinity of the middle kingdom want a choice — instead of bandwagoning to Beijing’s preferences. The United States provides this choice, allowing states to hedge their bets between the global hegemon and Asia’s rising power. But the United States’ role in balancing China in Asia is credible only insofar as it can maintain the trust and confidence of its treaty allies — such as Japan, South Korea and Australia — and partners like India and Vietnam. Abandoning Taiwan to China’s coercion would decimate this trust.