Former American national security adviser John Bolton completed a week-long tour of Taiwan by meeting President Tsai Ing-wen. During the meeting, Tsai claimed Taiwan was on the frontline in the fight for democracy and, as such, Taipei needs stronger ties with like-minded nations.
According to a press release from Tsai’s office, the president said, “As Taiwan stands on the frontline of the defense of democracy, … we are not only determined but also well prepared to protect our homeland.” The statement continued, “Taiwan is willing to deepen cooperation with the United States and all other like-minded partners to jointly safeguard peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait as well as the values of freedom and democracy.”
The Taiwan Cybersecurity Resiliency Act, a new bipartisan bill introduced in Congress, would back Tsai’s calls for closer relations. According to The Hill, the legislation would “require the Pentagon to broaden and strengthen cybersecurity cooperation with Taiwan by conducting cyber training exercises, defending the country’s military networks, infrastructure and systems, and leveraging US cybersecurity technologies to help defend Taiwan against Chinese cyberattacks.”
Tsai praised Bolton for his role in promoting US military support for the island, which China considers part of its sovereign territory. Bolton, who held several positions in the George W. Bush and Donald Trump administrations, has long called for Washington to take a more aggressive stance against Beijing.
In a 2017 op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal, Bolton called for arming Taiwan and sending troops to the island. He said he wanted to make Taiwan into an “unsinkable aircraft carrier,“ echoing a phrase often attributed to General Douglas MacArthur. Bolton has additionally called on Washington to revise or revoke the ‘One China’ policy.
Bolton praised President Joe Biden after the WSJ reported that around 200 American troops would be deployed to Taiwan. However, the former official demanded the White House do more, saying “I would homeport a couple of American naval vessels at Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s big harbor.”
The One China policy is an agreement that governs the Washington-Beijing relationship and asserts Taiwan and China are a part of the same country. During his trip to Taiwan, Bolton led a rally calling for Taiwanese independence. “Will Taiwan fight for its independence?” he asked, as people in the audience shouted: “Yes, we will.”
Bolton also urged Washington to recognize Taipei’s independence. “But now dual recognition makes sense from the US perspective, though it could be displeasing to Beijing,” he continued. “But that’s the point – to show that relations between the US and Taiwan are fixed, and will not go away.”
Bolton is the latest Republican presidential hopeful to make an overseas trip to a major weapons-buyer, following Mike Pompeo’s visit to Kiev during the period he was exploring a possible 2024 bid. One of the expected GOP frontrunners, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, recently traveled to Israel, where he hailed the country’s strong relations with the United States and even signed a bill purporting to fight anti-Semitism back at home.