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By Dave Van Zandt

The future of U.S. policy towards Taiwan and China hinges on the evolving strategies put forth by political figures like President Joe Biden and Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy. While both individuals emphasize the critical role of semiconductors in shaping global dynamics, their approaches diverge significantly.

President Biden’s recent executive order, signed with the intention of safeguarding sensitive U.S. technology from aiding China’s military modernization, marks a decisive step in addressing the growing technological rivalry. By prohibiting certain U.S. investments in sectors such as semiconductors, quantum information technologies, and artificial intelligence, Biden’s plan aims to prevent the inadvertent support of China’s advancements.

On the other hand, Ramaswamy proposes a new approach to managing the Taiwan issue. He suggests achieving self-reliance in semiconductor production by 2028 to discourage China from being aggressive toward Taiwan. Ramaswamy believes that China will avoid military conflict if the U.S. is serious about securing semiconductor autonomy. Ramaswamy says:

“I’m being very clear: Xi Jinping should not mess with Taiwan until we have achieved semiconductor independence, until the end of my first term when I will lead us there. And after that, our commitments to Taiwan, our commitments to be willing to go to military conflict, will change after that, because that’s rationally in our self-interest. That is honest. That is true, and that is credible.”

While both plans focus on semiconductors, they differ in scope and intent. Biden’s order seeks to bolster national security by restricting investments in critical tech sectors,  recognizing the broad implications of China’s technological rise. Ramaswamy’s proposal, meanwhile, takes a more targeted approach, presenting semiconductor independence as a potential deterrent to conflict over Taiwan.

The contrast extends to their views on Taiwan itself. Biden’s policy reflects the United States’ longstanding commitment to supporting Taiwan’s sovereignty within the confines of its “one-China” policy, which acknowledges Beijing’s claim but maintains a relationship with Taipei. Ramaswamy’s proposal offers a conditional commitment: military conflict over Taiwan would be deterred until semiconductor independence is achieved, after which the U.S. stance could shift.

In this era of technology’s role in geopolitics, managing the relationship with Taiwan and the evolving US-China dynamic is complex. The nation’s choice will have far-reaching implications for global stability and the balance of power in the Asia-Pacific.

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