Taiwan’s President Tsai faces primary challenge ahead of general elections

Taiwan’s President Tsai faces primary challenge ahead of general elections

Two leading politicians from Taiwan’s leading Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), William Lai and President Tsai Ing-wen, will today outline their

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Photo: Reuters

Two leading politicians from Taiwan’s leading Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), William Lai and President Tsai Ing-wen, will today outline their policies.

With national elections due on January 11, a primary poll running from Monday to Friday will decide the DPP’s presidential candidate. Despite her incumbency, a recent poll gave Tsai just 29% compared to Lai’s 50%.

Both candidates are strong proponents of Taiwan’s independence. Tsai rejected Beijing’s offer to allow Taipei to maintain its economic and legal autonomy as long as it accepted Chinese sovereignty. In response to China’s indication that it may apply military force, Tsai asked Washington for advanced fighter jets.

On the other hand, Taiwan’s opposition party, the Kuomingtang, is supportive of strengthening economic ties with China. Even though 97% of Taiwanese do not support unification with China, Taiwan does rely on China economically. As Taiwan’s biggest trade partner, China is responsible for 30% of the island’s total trade.

The re-election of DPP is by no means a certainty. If the party is re-elected, expect Taiwan to continue to strengthen its relationship with the US. However, if the party loses power come January, relations with Beijing are likely to warm.

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