The political fraud arrests last month in Taiwan of Roger and Julian Lin and others has pushed the issue of Taiwan's longstanding unresolved sovereignty from the back of the stove to a hot burner. The Lins headed Taiwan Civil Government, an advocacy group that urges the United States to expel the exiled Republic of China from Taiwan. TCG wants the United States to install an interim military government until a free referendum can be held to determine nationality.
Taiwan Civil Government has been spending money in Washington over the past few years to buy influence with policy-makers. The group has also brought federal litigation to advance its goals. The pro-American slant of TCG, complete with noisy flag waving, is no doubt welcome in Washington where the group's money is very welcome.
Roger Lin, founder of TCG, saw an opportunity with the election of Donald Trump to go to the head of the line to discuss Taiwan's future. The campaign to get inside the Trump White House began with TCG sponsorship of Congressional Quarterly's Roll Call Live 2016 Election Forum. Later, a congratulatory message to Trump was posted by TCG on its website asking for a chance to tell their story. Portraits of Trump also went up on TCG office walls.
Tickets to Trump's inauguration brought a TCG delegation to Washington led by Julian Lin. While in Washington the group bankrolled POLITICO's Inauguration Hub, a "networking lounge" at a swanky hotel. Lin also attended an invitation-only women's breakfast featuring Kellyanne Conway, Trump's campaign manager. The event, sponsored by RightNOW, was Julian's introduction to the Trump world.
Lin and Conway got together for some face time at POLITICO's 2017 Powerlist reception, sponsored by TCG. Lin spoke from the podium urging a new policy for Taiwan from the new president and also complained about the name Chinese Taipei being imposed on Taiwan by the People's Republic of China. After Lin spoke, Conway and Lin found a private corner and talked together before posing for a TCG photographer.
Julian Lin would have had a lot to tell Conway, including details of her then pending lawsuit against the United States, Roger & Julian Lin vs. USA & ROC. Conway's new job, Counselor to the President, gives her close access to Trump and she advises him on a wide variety of issues. Lin cannot answer questions about the conversation as she is now locked down in solitary confinement, without bail, and incommunicado without visitors.
As TCG spending and credibility increased, the group raised its sights and sponsored Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross at a Heritage Foundation event since the fraud arrests. Although Ross skipped out minutes before the start of the program, the reach of TCG to the Trump Cabinet and partnership with Heritage Foundation demonstrate growing political influence.
The revelation that Julian Lin has a White House connection takes a lot of wind from the sails of ROC prosecutors who claim TCG had no possibility of success. If Conway has been talking to Trump about Taiwan in the context of the North Korean summit meeting, the fog of strategic ambiguity may lift.
In another TCG lawsuit, Roger Lin vs. United States, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia declared Taiwan residents to be trapped in "political purgatory" and urged President Barack Obama to act "expeditiously" to resolve Taiwan's status. Obama did not follow the Lin court recommendation, leaving Trump an opportunity to both make history and stabilize Asian foreign relations.