February 28, 2024

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Taiwan reaffirms independence: China's key ruling party wins third term in presidential election |  Abroad

Taiwan reaffirms independence: China's key ruling party wins third term in presidential election | Abroad

UpdateChina's hard-line ruling party has won Taiwan's third presidential election. The people of the country went to the polling booth on Saturday to elect a new president. Although the country has only 23.5 million people, the election drew international attention from the United States and China due to the country's controversial political situation.

William Lai, also known as Lai Ching-te, won the Taiwanese election with 40.2 percent of the vote. This means the China-critical Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) will deliver the president for a third consecutive term. “I want to thank the people of Taiwan for writing a new chapter in our democracy,” Lai said in his victory speech, because “between democracy and dictatorship, we tell the international community that we stand by democracy.”

Lai, 64, was vice president under the outgoing government of President Tsai Ing-wen and represents a critical approach to China. In his victory speech, Lai Ching-te said that the Taiwanese had successfully resisted “external attempts to influence the election”, referring to the People's Republic of China. Beijing has made it clear in recent months that it could not be happier with Lai as the new president.

Lai also said he wanted to “defend Taiwan from China's intimidation and threats.” At the same time, he stressed, “he has an important responsibility to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”

Defeat for pro-Chinese party

Taiwan has been independent and democratically governed since 1949, but Beijing still considers the island a renegade province. As far as President Xi Jinping is concerned, Taiwan will one day be reunited with China. If necessary, force will be used. The US, on the other hand, is an ally of Taiwan and has already warned China against taking “provocative” actions following the crucial elections. So it's no surprise that viewers in China and the US were eagerly anticipating the outcome of the election.

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Pro-China Kuomintang (KMT) candidate Hou Yu-ih has already conceded defeat. Hu said, “I respect the final decision of the Taiwanese people” and “I congratulate Lai Ching-tae and Hsiao Bi-Kim (his entourage) in the hope that they will not disappoint the expectations of the Taiwanese people.” ih

China predicts Taiwan's election results will not change tense relations with the democratically-ruled island. In response to Lai Tsing-Tew's election victory, Beijing insists that the Chinese position has not changed and that reunification is “inevitable”. “We will firmly oppose separatist measures aimed at Taiwan's independence and foreign interference. Taiwan is the Taiwan of China.”

China says it wants to work “with relevant political parties, groups and people from various fields in Taiwan to promote exchanges and cooperation.”

New Parliament

In addition to a new president, Taiwanese may also vote for a new parliament. DPP's success there seems less likely. Lain's party previously had a majority in parliament. According to the 'Taipei Times' newspaper, the DPP got just 36 percent of the vote in the interim results, while the KMT got more than 34 percent. The center-left Taiwan People's Party (TPP), which has positioned itself as an alternative to the two major parties, won nearly 22 percent of the vote.

First congratulations to Lai after his election victory

The first reactions to the presidential election results are coming from the international community. The EU congratulated “all voters” who voted in Taiwan's election.

In the initial response, “Rising Tensions in the Taiwan Strait”, the EU is concerned about the strait between China and Taiwan. “Peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is critical to regional and global security and prosperity,” the EU statement said. Incoming President Lai Ching-te was not mentioned in the speech.

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Japan congratulated Lai. “We expect the Taiwan issue to be resolved peacefully through negotiations,” Foreign Minister Yoko Kamigawa said in a statement. “Taiwan is a very essential partner and an important friend for Japan, who shares fundamental values ​​and with whom we have close economic ties.”

US President Joe Biden has said that the US will not support Taiwan's independence. “We are not pro-independence,” the Democrat responded, according to Reuters news agency. The United States is considered Taiwan's most important ally and arms supplier, but like most countries it does not have formal diplomatic relations with the island.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken congratulated Lai Ching-te and Taiwan's “strong democratic system”. “America Dr. Lai Ching-te wins Taiwan's presidential election. We congratulate the people of Taiwan for once again demonstrating the strength of their democratic system and robust electoral process,” the minister said in a statement.


Polls for votes

No polls were allowed to be released in the ten days leading up to the vote, but last week's polls showed incumbent Vice President William Loy leading by a narrow margin. Lai supports Taiwanese independence and wants to strengthen ties with the US, Europe and other democracies. His main rival, Hou Yu-ih of the KMT, wants to preserve democracy in Taiwan but not declare independence.

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There is also the smaller Taiwan People's Party, which is somewhere in between and is sending Ko Wen-jae to the race. He sees Taiwan as a bridge between China and the US and envisions a more diplomatic approach to the relationship. Whoever wins the election will succeed incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen of the DPP, who came to power in 2016 and reached her two-term limit.

Trade routes

Meanwhile, the rest of the world was eagerly awaiting Beijing's response if the DPP – which China views as an arch-enemy – wins. A new regional conflict involving an island that produces more than 90 percent of the world's advanced microchips — vital to a range of products from iPhones to electric vehicles — is an absolute nightmare scenario. The strait between China and Taiwan – the Taiwan Strait – is one of the world's most important trade routes and, according to estimates, about 48 percent of all container ships pass through it. A conflict could disrupt supply chains and cause major damage to the global economy.

At the same time, Western and Taiwanese experts do not immediately expect war to break out in 2024. The Chinese economy is currently in dire straits and an invasion by sea would be extremely difficult and enormously expensive. Beijing may also be waiting for the US presidential election in November. It remains to be seen whether a potential administration of Republican Donald Trump would support an attack on Taiwan.