It’s tightrope time again in Taipei today, as the Taiwan leader tries to walk herself out of the latest logjam involving US President Donald Trump’s obsession with using Taiwan as a trump card in his efforts to upend China.
When Trump beat Hillary Clinton in the November 2016 race to the White House, he actually won a crooked race, the former First Lady having reached the finishing line long before him — with over three million more votes.
The Electoral College robbed Mrs. Clinton of her victory — just like the Democratic leadership had earlier robbed Senator Bernie Sanders of the Presidential Nomination.
And one of President-elect Trump’s first major imbroglios with China came when he invited the Taiwan leader to meet-and-greet him, even before entering the White House.
Beijing responded warning the new president he is entering dangerous uncharted waters without following the prescribed map route for ties between Washington and Beijing since they were re-established in the 1970s.
Under immense internal pressure, Trump eventually stood-down and pulled-back the invitation.
But during his four years, while he never got to walk Madam Tsai hand-in-hand along the White House balcony like he’d done with UK Prime Minister Theresa May, President Trump did say enough to (hopefully) assure her she had his back – and he would risk everything on his presidential platter, just to share her plate.
And now he’s about to be evicted from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, The Donald is again courting The Madam.
It’s like investing in arranging a last dance on a last date, or naming the top wish on your Bucket List – the last ten things you want before you die: Just as his opponents had initiated actions in the House of Representatives to quickly fire, impeach or evict him, the Master of the Art of Deflection unveiled his final gimmick.
Silenced by Big Tech, abandoned by major Republican enablers, Big Business Cold-shouldering him, forced to declare his supporters had broken the law on his orders, unable to escape authorizing 15,000 troops to guard Washington in the foreseeable future, up-ended by discovery (by the intelligence agencies still under his command) of a planned nation-wide armed insurgency (in all 51 states) in his name, hunkered with the rest of the Trump Klan deep in a White House bunker, unable to direct his 90 million online followers and with less than a fortnight left as President, the casino developer in his mind desperately sought an emergency trump card: announcing he’d unilaterally decided that US ties with Taiwan can effectively return to normal.
Madam Tsai, a former University Professor, knows quite well that while she’ll stay, Trump will go and President-elect Joe Biden will replace him, whenever inaugurated.
She also knows Biden could well decide to hide or further expose more frills about the departing president’s last-ditch effort to expose her proverbial political petticoat.
Taiwan was in the world news in the first week of 2021 for two reasons: named alongside China and Vietnam among the few economies posting positive post-COVID economic growth; and now issuing new passports with the name ‘Taiwan’.
But the Trump news was just as bad at the end of his term as it was when he started in January 2017.
The Taiwan leader already has a 2021 trump card over Trump: winning re-election for a second term.
Her only headache this early in the new year is the new news that another set of Taiwanese money lent or given to Saint Lucia has disappeared into thin air.
The Saint Lucia National Trust says it’s forced to close-down Walcott Place – the 1992 Nobel Prizewinner’s childhood home designated to honor him and his fellow artistic brother Roddy – for lack of funds.
But it also says Taiwan provided ‘two million dollars’ for the Walcott Place project, which the government says it’s unable to provide because it simply cannot find that money.
Questions: Where’s the money? What was it for? When was it given? Who was it handed to? Where was it deposited? When did it disappear? Were the Taiwanese told?
And most of all: Is there any investigation?
Given all that has transpired by way of shady transactions involving Taiwanese financial assistance to Saint Lucia since 1983, Madam Tsai cannot but be worried about this latest news from one of Taiwan’s last remaining Caribbean allies.
Mindful of the over $20 million lost in the Meat Processing Plant at Beausejour and the more millions expected for completion of the Hewanorra International Airport and St Jude Hospital projects (at least before the next general elections), this latest claim or revelation couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Taiwan leader.
Whether the missing money is found or not, she will continue to be accused of continuing to pour money down a deep black hole in Saint Lucia.
Already roasted by her latest Trump toast — that come January 21 she will no longer be able to boast — and as if Trump’s last-ditch effort to take her out on his last presidential date wasn’t enough on her plate, Saint Lucia is (again) being made to look like another dependable ally that’s also taken her out on yet another bad date.
At a time when Taiwan’s list of friends has been reduced from hands to fingers, Madam Tsai cannot but continue to waltz (carefully or carelessly) while the clock ticks.
And with Trump’s support no longer legal tender or bankable, is definitely not a time to fox-trot with a foxy Biden in transition.
After four years of trumped-up courting, Trump’s charm has lost its presidential shine.
And the court of world opinion will definitely not rule on her side if Madam Tsai chooses to play musical chairs – even Chinese Checkers – with The Donald, as he mounts his big white elephant for his last ride following the failure of the January charge of his light brigade.