Here in Hawaii, the election of Trump as the next U.S. president resulted in an outpouring of support for the notion of restoring Hawaii’s independence. My Facebook feed was filled with the discussion in the days following the election, with many folks who aren’t necessarily everyday outspoken supporters of independence suddenly finding it a very palatable consideration in light of the prospect of a Trump presidency. The groundwork has been laid both within our own political institutions and in the international community, in ways that are much more pervasive than most folks even within the movement realize, to initiate the transition when the time is right, and there is widespread feeling that now is the time.
Well now as president-elect, Mr. Trump has likely taken an action to further the support for Hawaii’s independence in another important location—China.
From the Wall Street Journal:
President-elect Donald Trump spoke with the president of Taiwan on Friday, a conversation that breaks with decades of U.S. policy and could well infuriate the Chinese government.
The conversation between Mr. Trump and President Tsai Ing-wen runs counter to the longstanding effort by Beijing to block any formal U.S. diplomatic relations with the island off China’s coast. Chinese leaders consider Taiwan a Chinese territory, not a sovereign nation.
There was no immediate response from Beijing, and posts citing foreign media reports about the call were being removed from Chinese social media sites Saturday morning. Reaction could be so severe as to include sanctions against U.S. companies, said Victor Shih, associate professor in the school of global policy and strategy at the University of California at San Diego.
“China and the U.S. have both worked very, very hard to create a status quo where Taiwan has de facto autonomy without any international legal standing,” he said. “And with one phone call—I think—Trump did in fact undermine the status quo quite a bit.”
I have noted a previous incident in which U.S. support for Taiwan reportedly yielded statements of support for Hawaii’s independence among Chinese officials. The idea of “arming” Hawaiian independence groups, as reported in this previous incident, is ridiculous because among other things Hawaiian independence groups are and have always been completely nonviolent, and that it would be stupid and futile. However, “the larger point here is simply that there are certainly elements within the Chinese government who are quite aware of the history of the U.S. claim to sovereignty in Hawaii, and the movement to end the occupation.”
Should the Trump administration continue to pursue diplomatic initiatives that violate the “one-China” policy, it is certainly conceivable that the Chinese government could respond with diplomatic moves of its own in support of Hawaii’s independence. De facto diplomatic relations is one of the foundations international statehood.
These are huge stakes in international diplomacy. Such is Hawaii’s political-strategic importance, the hub of the Pacific. But the main thing now is to continue to plant the seed, and to remember that Hawaii can and must be its own actor in this geopolitical drama, in our own interests, not just a pawn for the interests of others.
Geographically and politically, Hawaii is the fulcrum point between China and the U.S. It is very likely that over the next four years, under the Trump administration, leverage will be applied here. This will be a challenge and an opportunity.
Is Hawaii ready? I think so.