On 13 January, William Lai, the candidate elected from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), and Hsiao Bi-Khim, the former Taiwan representative to the US, successfully obtained a landslide victory this evening to become the next leaders of Taiwan. Nevertheless, their victory could have been smoother as the three candidate parties did not manage to obtain half of the seats in parliament, implying the possibility of an opposition coalition.
Former Taiwanese president Tsai congratulated Lai and exhibited her high hopes for a more democratic and resilient Taiwan and the solidarity of the Taiwanese people. Following Tsai's speech, the president-elect emphasised his aspiration for a more transparent Taiwan, highlighting the values of communication, cooperation, solidarity, and inclusion. Lai also emphasises repetitively how democratic freedom is a pivotal value in the Taiwanese political landscape.
In an interview with Dr. Hsin-Hsien Wang, an expert in East Asian studies from National Chengchi University, he discussed several implications concerning the possible victory of Lai prior to the presidential election result.
The million-dollar question would be China's reaction and future cross-strait policy toward a Lai victory. Wang mentioned the possibility of Taiwan facing an aggressive China if the DPP candidate were to be elected president. Tactics that China has been implementing and will continue to do include verbal aggression, menacing through military exercise, or even threatening the island through economic means. In addition, Wang demonstrated concerns about a securitised narrative from China that could lead to legal amendments to the 2005 Anti-Secession Law, which in a worst-case scenario could result in the Chinese's use of force to achieve reunification.
Similar to Wang's concerns, foreign media also questioned the cross-strait dynamics upon the winning of Lai, fearing an aggressive China through economic blockade or full-scale invasion while foreseeing the internal conflict between the president-elect and a possible opposition parliament.
Another expert interview with a fellow of Asian studies — David Sacks, at the Council for Foreign Affairs gave us more insight from the perspective of the U.S. Sacks pinpointed the repercussions of the Taiwanese presidential election and revealed that as the U.S. presidential election is coming up at the end of this year, the Biden administration would most likely be characterised as a pacific towards the potential Indo-Pacific conflict, prioritising de-escalation. Moreover, the U.S. will have to show support to boost Taiwanese confidence through various means. Lastly, the U.S., regardless of the election result, would still expect China to find a way to communicate with the democratically elected leader of Taiwan.
Lai's victory entails a future path toward resilience regarding Taiwanese external and internal policy-making. Whether it be the increase of the military budget or through the means of 'soft power'. Nevertheless, the unpredictability of this election also signifies an unpredictable China and its future decision on cross-strait relations.
Edited By: Josh Reidelbach
Photo: Yahoo news
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