Taiwan’s Election Poses a Test for Island’s Ties with China

Regardless of the January 13 vote’s outcome, Beijing is likely to keep up pressure to reunify Taiwan with China. Publication Type: Analysis and Commentary On January 13, Taiwanese will elect a new president in a race that is likely to have significant implications for the island’s relations with China as well as U.S.-China relations, regardless of who wins. A TV screen shows news about the presidential race in a noodle restaurant in Taipei, Taiwan, on Nov. 15, 2023. (An Rong Xu/The New York Times) Taiwan has emerged as a critical flashpoint between the United States and China. Chinese leader Xi Jinping has made unification of Taiwan with China a core goal — and one he is determined to achieve by force if necessary, as he has made clear on several occasions . Contrary to media coverage ahead of the vote, however, cross-strait relations are far from the only issue on the minds of Taiwanese voters. The country is facing a challenging economic situation marked by low wages and soaring home prices. Parliamentary elections are also being held alongside the presidential vote. USIP’s Rosie Levine, Carla Freeman and Andrew Scobell discuss the significance of the Taiwanese election, its implications for Taiwan’s relations with China and how the United States can promote peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. Who is leading in the presidential race and what are the candidates’ positions on cross-strait relations? Levine: As Taiwan’s presidential elections approach on January 13, the three-way race has tightened. Taiwan institutes a public opinion polling blackout in the 10 days before election day, so the last polls were taken on January 2 and public opinion may shift in the final stretch of the race. For the majority of the race, polls suggest that William Lai (or Lai Ching-te) has maintained a […]

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