Why the Obvious Geopolitics of the Taiwan Policy Act of 2022 Matter

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2022-09-23 04:30:24

The bill is more about opposition to China than support for Taiwan, and is part of the broader securitization of Washington’s Taiwan policy.

Just as the fire lit by U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan and China’s predictable military retaliations has started to fade, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is revving up its blowtorch. The Committee last week advanced the Taiwan Policy Act of 2022 (TPA), proposed by Senators Bob Menendez and Lindsey Graham in June, clearing it to move on to the Senate floor.

The bill is dominated by a values-based alignment with Taiwan and opposition to China that adheres to tropes of superpower struggle. These frameworks serve the narrative needs of hawks in both the U.S. and China. For its part, the leading Democratic Progressive Party in Taiwan has also relied on the rhetoric of democracy and freedom, and its relationship with the U.S., in its messaging on cross-strait relations. But Taiwan should matter to U.S. lawmakers principally because of what it is rather than what it is not.

The United States should pursue Taiwan policy that provides tangible and well-funded progress on trade, innovation, technology, and cultural and linguistic exchanges. Given Beijing’s permanent obsession with seizing Taiwan, any U.S. policy that makes China happy is almost surely a failure. But there is an important difference between rising to the occasion to support a nation in need and taking action designed solely to upset a shared adversary.

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