Has the US been trying to bolster the Ma Presidency?
Observers of the last two elections might have noted how the U.S made subtle but telling noises in support of President Ma at critical times late in the election campaigns. It is debatable whether this had any actual impact on voters but it certainly belied the US official position of non-intervention. In the past two weeks though we have seen an unusual level of activity between the US and Taiwan:
- Congress passed the sale of [dated] military ships to Taiwan
- 1st official cabinet-level visit of an American official to Taiwan since 2000
- Senior US official for APEC to visit Taiwan and meet Ma
- Taiwan and the US held another round of talks under the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) on April 4th in Washington
- According to Minister of National Defense Yen Ming (嚴明), the US has now said it will help Taiwan build Diesel submarines. According to the AIT, that is not true at all.
When you consider that waiting for US interaction with Taiwan, aside from exhortations that Taiwan allow the sale of US pork or beef, is like waiting for that special flower to bloom once every three years during a full solar eclipse, all this sudden action is unusual to say the least. Of course I may be reading much more into this than what is really there - after all the US also made a statement that TPP membership wasn’t linked to Taiwan signing trade agreements for ‘regional integration’ with China, something that quite embarrassed the Ma Administration who had been claiming the exact opposite. But we’re talking about the US here and the favourite sport of the State Department is definitely interfering in the economics and politics of other nations, often as a means to coerce third nations.