Thursday, July 30, 2015

Taiwan-China Relations: Continuity or Renewed Tensions?

What will cross-strait relations look like after the Jan. 16, 2016, elections in Taiwan? More of the same? Renewed tensions?

With the high likelihood that Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) will regain the presidency in the January 2016 elections, many analysts have predicted a return of tensions in the Taiwan Strait after eight years of relative stability under the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration of President Ma Ying-jeou. 

Whether a DPP victory in those elections would indeed mark a return to hostilities will be largely contingent on how Beijing reacts to this likely development. 

From the outset it's important that we clarify what the DPP under its Chairperson and presidential candidate, Tsai Ing-wen, is not. Unlike her predecessor Chen Shui-bian, who served two terms from 2000-2008, Tsai has taken a more subdued approach to cross-strait relations. She has chosen instead to focus on domestic matters and to consolidate the nation. When pressed to explain her cross-strait policies, Tsai has adopted a more centrist position than her predecessor by vowing to maintain the 'status quo' under the current constitutional framework of the Republic of China (ROC) and to seek continuity in the relationship with Beijing. 

Part 1 of my article, published today in the Lowy Interpreter at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia, continues here. Part 2 is available here (photo: Tsai Ing-wen Facebook page).

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