“Trump’s latest remarks on NATO spark concerns in Asia too”

Donald Trump’s recent invi­ta­tion to Russia to attack European allies shook NATO countries. How was this received in Asia? Security expert Chen-Yi Tu in an interview from Taiwan about reactions and the potential impact on security and alliances in Asia.

Mrs Tu, Donald Trump shocked NATO countries with his invi­ta­tion to Russia to attack allies in Europe. Were there any shock waves in Asia too?

Trump’s latest remarks on NATO spark concerns and appre­hen­sions in the region too, recalling his request to increase defense spending during his pres­i­dency in countries like Japan and Korea.

When you look into the broader region, countries from India to Australia have fortified their military alliances in the recent years, because of China’s increasing belliger­ence. How do you think Trump’s statement was received in Beijing?

Beijing has yet to respond directly to Trump’s statement. It should be noted that the news broke-out during Lunar New Year, when the Chinese media tend to focus on the new year cele­bra­tion throughout Mainland China and overseas Chinese commu­ni­ties. However, Foreign Minister Wang Yi still took the oppor­tu­nity to present China as a more stable, reliable security partner than the U.S. during his recent visit to Europe.

Manila has felt more heat from Beijing in the last couple of weeks. Under the Biden-pres­i­dency the country secured a broader US-military engage­ment on the Philip­pines. What would a with­drawal of Trump from the Philip­pines mean for the most Western tip of the Pacific. Would China even­tu­ally succeed and occupy what it calls the South China Sea?

While it is clear that China asserts its maritime claims on the South China Sea, there are many uncer­tain­ties for the prospect of the South China Sea with various parties involved. Although the previous Trump admin­is­tra­tion did withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Part­ner­ship, it also rejected nearly all Beijing’s maritime claims in the South China Sea. It is too early to tell from now.

Taiwan is a vital part of the first island chain that is designed to keep the war hungry Chinese dictator Xi Jinping at bay. If Taiwan falls this would have signif­i­cant reper­cus­sion for the security in Asia and global trade. Unlike Joe Biden, Donald Trump said he might not defend the island nation. How will the incoming admin­is­tra­tion view a potential return of Donald Trump to the White House? 

I would say the incoming admin­is­tra­tion, which is the unprece­dented third term of Demo­c­ratic Progres­sive Party (DPP), has started the govern­ment tran­si­tion process and prepared for all possible outcomes in this election year. This has been the reality in the U.S.-Taiwan relations. The most important thing is respecting the demo­c­ratic process of Taiwan’s allies and like-minded partners.

The Taiwanese army has substan­tially increased its ability to rebuke a Chinese attack in the last few years. Could it count on the support of other regional players such as Japan and Australia in case of an invasion attempt?

As an island, Taiwan’s military strategy is build-upon the fact that Taiwan has to defend itself. Taiwan would welcome all possible support and assis­tance from the allies and like-minded partners, but this does not funda­men­tally change the fact and aim of capability-building.

Beijing has claimed that the United States would seek to form an “Asian NATO”. In reality Wash­ington enter­tains a lot of alliances with single countries in Asia such as Vietnam and selected smaller groups such as the QUAD or the AUKUS part­ner­ship, that come not close to the article 5 commit­ment of the NATO charter. Would the creation of such an Asian NATO be in the interest of Asian nation and ulti­mately deter Beijing?

Compared with NATO, Asian nations generally do not show strong soli­darity in addressing security chal­lenges due to differ­ences and political reality. Even a NATO-like treaty alliance may still have a long way to go, Beijing is wary of all kinds of connec­tions-building within and beyond regions- as long as Beijing is not one of the parties involved.

Dr. Chen-Yi (Crystal) Tu is an Assistant Research Fellow at the Division of Cyber­se­cu­rity and Decision Making Simu­la­tion at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research (INDSR) in Taiwan. Her research focuses on infor­ma­tion oper­a­tions, strategy, emerging tech­nology, and their impli­ca­tions in geopo­lit­ical compe­ti­tion. She is one of the first Inaugural Group of McCain Fellows for Freedom by Inter­na­tional Repub­lican Institute, U.S. Prior to joining INDSR, Dr. Tu worked in consul­tancy on data science and data-driven decision-making for both public and private sectors in Taiwan.



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