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For China, this is a Rebel Province which remains part of its territory. For the Taiwanese government, the island is an independent stateIt was governed by its own constitution and was considered the Chinese government in exile for decades. This is because the current rulers of Taiwan were the enemies who were defeated in the 1940s by the communists who currently rule China.
The vote has the potential to worsen already notsogood relations between Taiwan and China and even accelerate Chinese invasion plans on the island.
Hours before the start of the vote, China expressed open threats against politicians who spoke in favor of Taiwan's independence: the Chinese government declared that it would take all measures to “crush” any independence plan and that this was incompatible with peace.
None of the competing parties is a Chinese ally and the current group leading Taiwan, the favorite in the polls, is now the biggest enemy.
The main parties are as follows:
- Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), the current group that holds power and is favorite in 2024. Your candidate is Lai ChingteVice President of the current President, Tsai Ingwen.
- Kuomintang (KMT), a party that has historically been an enemy of the Chinese but is now favored by Xi Jinping's government. Your candidate is Hou Yuih.
The main difference between the two is this the PDP is independent, In other words, it wants to put an end to any pretense of unification with China once and for all.
Already The KMT considers Taiwan and China as one countrybut that the Chinese regime does not have the legitimacy to govern.
In the first half of the 20th century there was a civil war in China. The communists under Mao Tse Tung were the winners. The defeated went precisely to Taiwan. For years, both the Chinese and Taiwanese sides claimed they had the legitimacy to rule all of China (both mainland and island).
To this day, Taiwan's official name is the Republic of China; The official name of mainland China is the People's Republic of China.
O KMT is the party that lost the civil war to the Communist Party in 1949.
Yi Shin Tang, a professor at the University of São Paulo, explains that the government in Taiwan is very centralized and that the election of the president fuels many passions. “The campaigns are fierce, the interests are great and two superpowers are interested in the outcome: the United States and especially China.”
Xi Jinping, the leader of China, has already made some strong, veiled threats that there could be different results depending on the outcome of the vote, according to Professor Tang.
Recently, the Chinese have increased the number of military exercises around the island of Taiwan and have flown balloons over the territory.
In a speech at the end of the year Xi Jinping said: “China will definitely be reunified.”
“The result (of the Taiwan vote) is very important for Xi Jinping because it is about his political survival: he has made the Taiwan agenda a kind of scarecrow to avoid publicly discussing China's problems, such as slower growth. “Economy in recent years,” says Tang.
“The idea of China peacefully incorporating Taiwan is becoming increasingly unlikely. The Taiwanese are increasingly satisfied with their own system,” says the USP professor.
According to the Portal news agency, the Chinese government hates PDP candidate Lai Chingte, and has already rejected several proposals to meet with him for discussions. The Chinese government has talked about the elections a choice between peace and warHe says that the party that can be reelected comes from this party dangerous separatists and urges Taiwanese voters to make “the right choice.”
The Taiwanese government says China promoted an online disinformation campaign in favor of mainland Chinese candidates. The Chinese respond that the PDP’s allegations are “dirty tricks.”
The Taiwanese public wants independence
Yi Shin Tang, the USP professor, says the majority of Taiwanese citizens today support independence and a move away from China. “The KMT itself doesn't talk so much about integration today, they are more ambiguous, they say that Taiwan needs to move closer (to China) but without talking about a single China, and the PDP is more forceful,” he says .
According to him, there are other issues at stake, particularly economic issues, the cost of living in Taiwan and external vulnerability in terms of natural resources.
There is also a third party, the Taiwan People's Party (PPT), led by candidate Ko Wenje. They have a moderate proposal for the third way between the KMT and the PDP.
The country's legislation does not allow polls to be published in the ten days before the vote. On January 3rd, polls showed the following numbers:
- PDP (Independence Party).): 36%
- KMT (Party for Maintaining Good Relations with China).): 31%
- PPT (centre party): 24%
USA: strategic ambiguity
The US pursues a policy of strategic ambiguity towards Taiwan. Shortly after the Chinese Revolution of 1949, the United States recognized the KMT as the legitimate government of China. However, in 1975 this changed. The US began to recognize China and does not officially consider Taiwan a nation, but continues to provide military support to the island.
According to Tang, the political situation in the USA is not favorable for Taiwan.
Joe Biden, the current president, has had difficulty garnering support for Israel and would also have difficulty providing military assistance to Taiwan in the event of an invasion. Donald Trump, the Republican Party's top candidate in the polls, has already said he has no intention of intervening which Tang said would be a carte blanche for Xi Jinping.
When analyzing the situation in Taiwan, there is a lot of talk about China and the USA, but alongside these two, a third country will be particularly attentive: Japan.
Taiwan was a protectorate of Japan for decades and the islands are nearby. For Tang, Japan would not be able to help militarily but could act diplomatically to draw attention to the island issue.
1 of 1 Image from the eve of the elections in Taiwan Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Portal Image from the eve of the elections in Taiwan Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Portal