We will be dealing with political theater on a global scale. Xi Jinping will have to show his comrades a firm hand, but carefully enough not to provoke escalation or trigger any armed skirmishes – the consequences of Saturday’s elections in Taiwan are assessed by Dr. Michał Bogusz, an analyst from the Center for Eastern Studies (OSW). The candidate of the Democratic Progressive Party, which has been in power for eight years, Lai Ching-te, won these elections.
Saturday elections won by the candidate of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Lai Ching-te, who announced the continuation of the policy of current president Tsai Ing-wen and maintaining Taiwan’s independence from mainland China. Meanwhile, the communist authorities in Beijing recognize Taiwan as part of China and seek to take control over it, without ruling out the possibility of using force.
An expert from the Warsaw Center for Eastern Studies (OSW), Dr. Michał Bogusz, observed the elections directly in Taiwan. “Contrary to appearances, in my opinion little will change in Taiwan’s relations with China,” says the analyst. He noted that “Beijing will somehow show its dissatisfaction, especially if the information is confirmed that a representative of the White House will come to Taiwan. “We can expect that there will be some demonstration of force, but it will have a primarily internal dimension,” he predicts.
Elections in Taiwan
In recent years, since two-term incumbent Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) came to power, Chinese leader Xi Jinping he has repeatedly warned that China’s military is ready to take Taiwan by force if necessary, and described this year’s presidential race as “a choice between war and peace.” DPP candidate Lai Ching-te, also known as William Lai, won again in the presidential election on Saturday.
“The election of Lai Ching-te from the DPP as president, the current vice president, despite voters’ great dissatisfaction with stagnant wages and rising costs of living, or the failure to fulfill many promises in the socio-economic sphere, shows that the Taiwanese want to maintain the course in foreign policy,” argues Bogusz. .
“Xi Jinping will have to show his comrades a firm hand, but carefully enough not to provoke escalation or trigger any armed skirmishes. In short, we will be dealing with political theater on a global scale. The media will be allowed to use them, but I would not in unnecessary intensification, because we are not yet at the stage when we are threatened with a serious crisis in the Taiwan Strait,” emphasizes the OSW analyst.
“Another Election Winner”
For many of the nearly 19.5 million voters in this country of 23 million, the decision about who to vote for on Saturday was not based solely on the issue of relations with China.
Dr. Bogusz emphasizes that the DPP cannot be sure of winning in four years unless – as the expert says – it starts to address the growing inequalities and difficulties – especially for young people just entering adult life. In turn, the KMT, as the expert says, “must ask itself what the future of the Chinese nationalist party is on an island where only 3 percent of respondents declare themselves exclusively Chinese.”
“Despite disappointment with the DPP’s rule, the KMT (Kuomintang) was unable to convince them, above all, that it would sincerely defend Taiwan’s actual independence. Both parties have a lot to think about and do,” the expert notes. The OSW expert also sees a different winner in Saturday’s elections. “The biggest winner is the TPP (Taiwanese People’s Party). Its candidate won only 26 percent of the vote, but this is more than the third candidate in previous election cycles. The party has increased its share in parliament and will play the role of a leverage. Above all, it managed to attract many young voters who are disappointed with the DPP, but will never vote for the KMT – sums up Dr. Michał Bogusz.
Main photo source: PAP/EPA – Ritche B. Tongo