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Will Taiwan’s parliamentary elections prove a game-changer?

China, with its economic and political clout, will not make any concessions on the self-governing island
Supporters wave Taiwan's national flags and Taiwan People's Party (TPP) flags during an election campaign rally in Keelung on Jan. 10

Supporters wave Taiwan's national flags and Taiwan People's Party (TPP) flags during an election campaign rally in Keelung on Jan. 10. (Photo: AFP)

Published: January 11, 2024 11:53 AM GMT
Updated: January 12, 2024 07:53 AM GMT

On Jan. 13, Taiwan goes to polls to elect a new president and a unicameral legislature.

The result of the poll in Taiwan, home to 24 million people, has the potency to decide if the world’s superpowers will come closer to World War III, starting it on Asian soil, air, and sea.

Aided by the US, Taiwan considers itself a sovereign nation. Beijing considers Taiwan a breakaway province and wants it to become part of mainland China.

The party that wins this year’s election can change Taiwan’s international policy either taking it too close to the US or closer to China.

Three main parties are contending for the presidency: the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP); the Kuomintang (KMT) and the relatively new Taiwan People’s Party (TPP).

The Presidential candidates are William Lai (DPP), Hou Yu-ih (KMT), and Ko Wen-je (TPP).

The DPP is keen on getting Taiwan accepted by nations of the world as an independent country and often walks that extra mile to please the US administration.

The other two want to preserve the status quo, which allows it to have formal diplomatic ties with only 13 of the 193 United Nations member states, including the Vatican.

Under the 'One China policy,' China asserts that there is only one China and Taiwan is part of that China. The US acknowledges the Chinese position on Taiwan but does not accept that position.  

However, both the DPP and KMT find common ground in anti-communism against the rulers of China.  

The DPP came to power for the first time in 2000, it managed to create a distinct Taiwanese identity which is often championed by the Western media.

Under the current DPP government of President Tsai Ing-wen, the free-Taiwan movement gained more ground and the US reciprocated with more arms and state visits by high-profile diplomats and politicians, including Nansi Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives, in August 2022.

To bolster their morale, the US administration, under Donald Trump, had already initiated a trade and technology transfer war against communist China.

In anticipation of a US anti-China proxy war over Taiwan, under the slogan of “American bullets, Taiwanese blood,” the DPP extended the period of compulsory military service from four months to one year, beginning in 2024.  The “blood” part was completed.

On the “bullets” part, Taiwan has been buying US weapons since 1979. The sale and the enormous expenditure on US bases, and “freedom of navigation” maneuvers continue under the current Biden administration.

The perceived aim was to provoke China into a military action to harm its reputation in the eyes of its neighbors so that they are in a position to join a US-led anti-China alliance. 

Preparing for the worst, vast military-industrial operations began to build up in China and the US to defeat each other in a possible all-out, high-tech combat.

Perhaps the US would have gone for a false flag operation if Hamas hadn’t launched its Oct. 7 attack on Israel, an all-weather ally of the US. Add to that the Ukraine war fatigue that gained more ground in the US Congress after Israel’s Gaza war.

As the high-tech wars in Eastern Europe and the Middle East began to hurt the US economically and politically, the Biden administration was forced to wind up its trade and technology transfer war with China. The result was the Xi-Biden San Francisco summit in November last year.

At the summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping bluntly told President Biden that Beijing would reunify Taiwan with mainland China but the timing has not yet been decided.

Biden, however, stressed the need to avoid conflict. “That is what I am all about. That is what this is about,” Biden said at the summit.

After the summit, Biden was forced to fall for the ‘One China’ policy.  “I am not going to change that. That is not going to change,” he said.

The US has imposed a clampdown on Taiwan ahead of the polls.

Xi and his Communist Party have been banking on nationalism to perpetuate their one-party rule.

China nipped in the bud any hope of Western democracy in Hong Kong with its draconian new national security law in 2020, which made it easier to prosecute pro-democracy protesters and reduced autonomy in the former British colony.

The Communist Party has already succeeded in getting a clean chit on the alleged human rights violations of the Uyghurs in strategic Xinjiang province from none other than UN rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, following an in-person visit there in May 2022.

With its current economic and political clout, China will not make any concessions on the self-governing island. At the 2022 Chinese Communist Party Congress, Xi stated publicly that China would attack Taiwan if it declared independence with foreign support.

That should make the Taiwan elections a cause for concern in Asia, and across the world.

*The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.

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1 Comments on this Story
If history is any guide, we should consider India after the British left. After more than 300 years in India, and with Gandhi and Nehru pressing for Independence, Britain felt it was time to leave and they did so, without a single shot being fired. The French had some territory, known as Pondicherry, on the East Coast of India. They also left without a shot being fired. However, Portugal had an enclave on the South West coast of India, known as Goa. Repeated requests to leave, fell on deaf ears. It was Indian land and it didn't seem right that foreigners should control it. India eventually invaded Goa and took it back by force. Isn't Taiwan Chinese territory? It was during the Cultural Revolution in 1949, that Taiwan was taken over by Shanghai Sheik (pardon the spelling) It is definitely unacceptable that a foreign power (USA) should aid and abet the breakaway of that island from the Chinese mainland. It rightfully belongs to China and peaceful efforts should be made in the reunification. Over those years, since the break away form China, trade between Taiwan and China has skyrocketed. In addition, Chinese and Taiwan business people have wives, mistresses and children in each others country. Should hostilities break out, it would be brother against brother. I humbly suggest that peace could easily be achieved if only China and Taiwan could keep on making love and not war!
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