Taiwan election guide Who are the three presidential candidates and

Taiwan, election guide: Who are the three presidential candidates (and who supports Beijing)

TAIPEI – Rallies of the three presidential candidates are full of people, contenders for the 113 seats of the Legislative Yuan (Taipei's parliament), walking through the cities in open vans, carrying out door-to-door canvassing in the villages, seeking every vote in person.
It is also an election campaign in the old pre-socialist style of Taiwan, the democratic island of 23 million people that can supply 90 percent of the most advanced semiconductors that power the world's globalized industries. Taiwan, which Beijing considers one of its reunified provinces, is voting, and people here appear much calmer than Western governments that fear a third war front. The Taiwanese are used to decades of threats, planes, spy balloons and even gunfire and missiles coming from across the strait.
The outcome of the presidential election is uncertain. With their nuances of thinking, the three presidential candidates share a problem: it is the idea of ​​a prosperous and democratic island where Chinese is spoken that Xi Jinping cannot accept.

Lai Ching-te, the progressive

The Chinese Communist Party, which never submits to popular elections and claims that they destroy harmony and sow chaos, has decided to elect Taiwan's next president on its own terms. Beijing is warning its “compatriots,” saying they are “facing a choice between war and peace” and that the election of Lai Ching-te of the DPP, the Democratic Progressive Party, which has been in government for eight years, as president would lead to ruin. Lai Ching-te (who calls himself William for convenience), 64 years old, current deputy to President Tsai Ing-wen, who is leaving the stage after two terms in office, had in the past defined himself as a “political worker for Taiwan's independence” . He corrected his position and now said: “There is no desire to officially proclaim independence, our island is already de facto sovereign and the status quo in the strait serves the interests of global stability.” His aim is to achieve the military to strengthen the island's defenses to repel a Chinese invasion, counting on the help of the United States. All in all, the Chinese judgment against him helps him on the domestic front, because he has a good hand when he says: ” We cannot rely on the goodwill of those who threaten to attack and invade us: peace is our path, democracy our “compass”. His victory would be a record as the DPP has been in power for two terms and voters have never allowed a third consecutive term in Taiwan's history. Its weakness is that in eight years, President Tsai has never (really) looked for an opportunity to dialogue with Beijing. Now Lai says his victory would give Xi “a political opportunity: to responsibly return to supporting the international order by resuming talks with Taiwan.” He appointed a woman, Hsiao Bi-khim, 52, as his deputy. A decision that represents a challenge for Beijing: the lady was de facto ambassador to the United States for three years and was blacklisted by China for this reason. Hsiao goes by the nickname “Cat Warrior,” which she gave to mock the “wolf warriors” of aggressive Chinese diplomacy. “Cats are agile, flexible and can maintain balance in small spaces. You can’t force them to do things they don’t want to do.”

Hou Yu-ih, flexible towards Beijing

How to prevent the invasion threatened by Xi Jinping? The Kuomintang candidate, seeking to return to power after eight years of rule by the anti-Chinese and quasi-independent DPP, has developed a “3D policy”. Hou Yu-ih, 66, a former police commander who became known as the mayor of New Taipei (the satellite city of the capital Taipei), explains that 3D stands for defense, dialogue and de-escalation. According to the man who is tied in the polls with William Lai, “in the face of the threat from Beijing, it is not enough to strengthen armed defense, we must find a way to reduce tensions and resume dialogue.” Hou argues, that the incumbent Taiwanese government, despite its rigidity, has failed to cooperate with China even in the face of the common ultimate challenge in the fight against the pandemic, and that it is therefore necessary to take some conciliatory steps. The Kuomintang was also Mao's ally in the Patriotic War against the invading Japanese, then fought and lost in the Civil War. He knows his opponent well. As president, would Hou meet Xi Jinping, as his Kuomintang predecessor Ma Ying-jeou did in 2015, and make history with a 46-second handshake? “Times have changed, I have no unrealistic illusions about China. “First of all, we must try to renew contacts between private individuals, to recover the millions of Chinese tourists who have arrived from the continent, to resume exchanges between our scholars and theirs, to restart trade flows.” then a new political dialogue can follow,” he replies. And to dispel any doubt that he wants to give in too much, he immediately adds that we also need to increase defense spending and increase military cooperation with the United States. But here too with realism: “Taiwan does not have the military strength to repel an invasion, we can only make it clear to China that the price of war would be too high.” Hou is solid like a movie cop and he plays with it: “A president must take care of the interests of people who want to live in peace before ideologies. I know how to do it. As a police officer, I have defended people from crime for thirty years.” Basic message to the Taiwanese who will vote tomorrow: “Do you think the situation will improve if Lai Ching-te wins?”

The third way of surgeon Ko

There is a third man in the race for Taiwan's presidency: 64-year-old surgeon Ko Wen-jie, who leads the Taiwan People's Party (TPP). He suggests a different path for dangerous navigation: neither de facto independent like Lai, nor conciliatory like Hou. “After saying no to Beijing, there is no further step, so we have to think about how we can have a dialogue without obeying the dictates.” I am not saying that I would be the best president, but the one who is most appropriate to the situation corresponds best.” Dr. Ko was mayor of Taipei from 2014 to 2022, he has a large following among young voters because he speaks out about low salaries, the strenuous work shifts, the houses at prohibitive costs and the support of young couples who do not have children. In order to keep up with the times, he took the stage in his campaign commercials with children dancing and singing. He has a character flaw, he doesn't like contact with people: his opponents have diagnosed him as a “social embarrassment”. He doesn't deny it: “You know, I worked as an intensive care unit surgeon for many years and all my patients were intubated, they couldn't speak, so I got used to working for them without arguing.” But in In emergency surgical situations, “you can't be emotional, you have to impose rationality and mental order, just like a president, to save Taiwan.” He doesn't appear to have the numbers to become president against the two traditional parties, but his votes can tip the balance in the election campaign.