Local elections in Taiwan a clear signal

By Cao Siqi Source:Global Times Published: 2018/11/25 20:48:39 Last Updated: 2018/11/26 1:04:31

No country shall fool the island: analysts

Tsai Ing-wen announced her resignation as the chair of the Democratic Progressive Party late Saturday, to take responsibility for the party's performance in Taiwan's local elections. Photo: VCG

The result of local elections in Taiwan showed that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has lost people's support and conveyed a strong signal to the US that no country shall fool Taiwan residents or attempt to play the Taiwan card to contain the mainland, Chinese analysts warned on Sunday. 

It is predicted that the US will continue to use Taiwan as a bargaining chip in the 2020 US general elections to restrain the development of the Chinese mainland and push Beijing to compromise. But it would be quite difficult for the US to continue with this strategy under changing regional dynamics, analysts said.

Taiwan held local elections, or nine-in-one elections, to elect representatives to nine levels of government including mayors and councilors on Saturday. Among the 22 county and city chief posts, the Kuomintang  (KMT) won 15 seats, the DPP landed six, and the remaining one went to an independent candidate, the Xinhua News Agency reported, citing the island's election affairs authority.

Ma Xiaoguang, spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, on Sunday said the mainland will continue to enhance solidarity with Taiwan compatriots and follow a path of peaceful development of the cross-Straits relations.

Ma noted that the results reflected the strong will of the people in Taiwan in sharing the benefits of peaceful development across the Taiwan Straits, and desire to improve the island's economy and people's wellbeing.

Lost support

After the DPP became the ruling party of the island in 2016, cross-Straits relations have been volatile since the DPP refuses to recognize the 1992 Consensus - which embodies the one-China principle - and pushes for "desinicization."

"What the DPP has done in recent years has failed the residents of Taiwan and caused strong discontent. The DPP's restrictions on cross-Straits exchanges in all fields, including trade, have affected the livelihoods of the island's residents and failed to improve the economic development of the island," Yang Lixian, a specially-appointed research fellow at the Beijing-based Research Center on Cross-Strait Relations, told the Global Times on Sunday.

The DPP was defeated because residents have started abandoning the party. The people of Taiwan now realize that relying on the US will not solve their problems. Their choice sent a signal to Washington that no country shall treat them as a puppet, said Yang.

In February, the Chinese mainland revealed 31 new measures to boost exchange and cooperation with Taiwan. Over 10,000 young people from the island had taken internships, found jobs or started businesses in the mainland's entrepreneurship bases and pilot sites by the end of June, according to Xinhua.

In September, a new regulation came into effect that allows residents of Taiwan to apply for residence permits in the mainland. More than 22,000 Taiwan residents had applied for such residence permits in the Chinese mainland by September.

Changing dynamics

Observers predict the US will not come to terms with the election results and will continue playing the Taiwan card to contend with the mainland. "The next year will be full of turbulence and changes, and the situation in Taiwan is still tough," Chang Ya-chung, an international relations professor at National Taiwan University, told the Global Times.

Chang said the US will fully manipulate Taiwan to speak for the favor of Washington in the 2020 general elections and push the mainland into a dilemma. 

"For example, the US may invite Tsai Ing-wen for an official visit," he said, adding that it is hard for both the KMT and the DPP to ultimately change their attitude toward the US.

The US' previous engagement in defense cooperation with the island of Taiwan has typically maintained a low profile, but things are changing now. Security collaboration between the US and the island of Taiwan is increasing, and some of it has been made public.

In the past two years, the Pentagon has stressed the US' commitment to arms sales to Taiwan. Washington has also granted the marketing license for the sale of submarine technology to the island.

Washington sent two US destroyers through the Taiwan Straits in July, a gesture that many observers believe is aimed at provoking China.

Tsai is relying more heavily on US protection. Since US President Donald Trump announced the "Indo-Pacific" strategy, Tsai has sought to participate and play a special role in regional military and security affairs.

However, Taiwan residents have realized that peaceful development is the right path for the island. Their demand for better livelihoods will determine how much influence the US can exert by playing the Taiwan card, said Yang.


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