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Trump Will Continue Support for Taiwan if He Becomes President, Ex-Ambassador Says

Published: May 5, 2024
Former President Donald Trump speaks with the media at Manhattan Supreme Court during the proceedings in his criminal trial at the New York State Supreme Court in New York, New York, Friday, May, 3, 2024. (Image: Curtis Means/Pool via REUTERS/ File Photo)

A former U.S. ambassador who served under the Trump administration said he believed former President Donald Trump would continue support for Taiwan if he wins back the White House this November.

Communist China claims Taiwan as its own territory despite Taipei’s objections. The self-governing island received strong backing during Trump’s administration. The support included arms sales, and this is continuing under the government of President Joe Biden.

Trump had spoken to Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen in 2016 shortly after he won the election, prompting anger in Beijing. 

The United States does not officially recognize Taiwan’s government, officially called the Republic of China (ROC), while the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) claims the island as part of its sovereign territory. 

On May 4 (Saturday), James Gilmore, former ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in the EU , told reporters in Taipei that Trump was not an isolationist as often described, but rather he was trying to get U.S. allies to take their own defense more seriously.

Am American F-16-V of Taiwan Air Force during an anti-invasion drill on hight-way road in Chang-Hua on May 28, 2019 in Chang-Hua, Taiwan. The live firing was part of annual exercises designed to prove the military’s capabilities to repel any Communist Chinese attack.(Image: Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images)

Gimore was visiting Taipei to give a speech at a Taiwanese think tank, the Center for Asia-Pacific Resilience and Innovation. “I believe that President Trump will be supportive of Taiwan when he becomes president. He was in his first term,” he said. 

Taiwan’s President Tsai is set to meet Gilmore, but the former ambassador will not see President-elect Lai Ching-te, due to scheduling issues. Lai will take office on May 20.

Due to the “one-China” policy that forces a choice between mainland China and Taiwan, the U.S. and most other countries do not formally recognize the ROC as a sovereign state. Instead, they maintain unofficial diplomatic relations with Taipei via various channels. 

The ROC governed all of China before 1949, when it lost control of the mainland in fighting with the CCP armies. In 1971, the United Nations expelled the ROC, handing the “China” seat to Beijing. 

Gilmore said he would report back to Trump on his visit, and pass on any messages from Taiwan.

He also added: “I fully expect to write a memorandum and submit it to President Trump. What he does with these memos people send him we do not know.” “But I have made up my mind that I can be helpful.”

Support for Taiwan a core US policy

Trump, who left the White House following the 2020 election, is set to face Biden in a rematch in November’s general elections.

Gilmore added he thought communications between the ROC and U.S. governments were already solid, and it was not necessary for him to be a messenger of that matter. Gilmore also served as the governor of Virginia state from 1998 to 2002.

The CCP in recent years has ramped up military and political pressure against Taiwan. The United States is Taiwan’s most important international backer and arms supplier.

Several Republican lawmakers were hosted this year by Taiwan as part of bipartisan delegations visiting the island. The visitors included in February Mike Gallagher, then-chair of the House of Representatives select committee on China.

Gallagher also mentioned on that trip that he believes the U.S. would continue to support Taiwan, no matter who wins the presidency.

Reuters contributed to this report.