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Donald Trump 'unpredictable:' Taiwanese scholars

2016/11/09 17:53:44

Panel discussion at the election watch event Wednesday in Taipei (From AIT Facebook page)

Taipei, Nov. 9 (CNA) United States Presidential-elect Donald Trump is more unpredictable than his Democratic Party rival Hillary Clinton, and he will likely push Taiwan to buy more weapons from the United States if elected, Taiwanese scholars said Wednesday.

Speaking at a U.S. presidential election watch event in Taipei held by the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) before the results of the election were known, the scholars felt Trump's foreign policy would be affected by his inexperience.

Liao Da-chi (廖達琪), a professor in National Sun Yat-sen University's Institute of Political Science, said Trump is a newcomer in the political arena and his cross-strait policy is more unpredictable.

But his administration will likely be less involved in international affairs and focus more on domestic issues, Liao said.

Noting that Trump is an entrepreneur, she said a Trump administration may not help defend Taiwan but will instead ask Taiwan to purchase weapons from the U.S. because arms dealers there represent a large interest group and Trump "would not ignore that."

Taiwan might face greater pressure to buy weapons from the U.S. if Trump is elected, she said.

Her views were shared by other Taiwanese scholars who also attended the election watch event.

Alexander Huang (黃介正), an assistant professor at Tamkang University's Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies, said countries in the Asia-Pacific region would face a new learning curve if Trump were elected because he is harder to predict.

Lai I-chung (賴怡忠) of the Taiwan Thinktank said that while there were no indications who might be on Trump's national security team, the U.S. government has supported Taiwan over the long term and that is likely to stay the same.

He agreed that a Trump presidency means the U.S. will be more likely to sell Taiwan weapons, Lai added.

Echoing Liao's remarks, Eric Yu (俞振華), an associate research fellow with National Chengchi University's Election Study Center, said "it is hard at this point to predict" Trump's foreign policy.

On Wednesday afternoon (Taipei time), Trump was declared the winner of the U.S. presidential election as Clinton's firewall in U.S. Rust Belt states collapsed in a series of close races, especially in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

As of 5:40 p.m., Trump had garnered 276 electoral votes to Clinton's 218 votes, according to results compiled by the Washington Post. A total of 270 electoral votes were needed to win.

The result showed that many American voters were worried about the U.S. government's current policy course, Yu said after the results were known, citing a pre-election poll that found 60 percent of respondents feeling that the U.S. was "heading in the wrong direction."

Many Americans were concerned about globalization and Trump's advocacy of protectionism appealed to working class and middle class people, Yu said.

He also noted that Clinton's failure to attract young voters may have been another reason for her losses to Trump in several battleground states.

(By Elaine Hou and Tai Ya-chen)