Taiwanese voters will be casting their ballots next January 11 in what is widely considered to be the most consequential presidential election in Taiwan’s history. To help Chamber members better understand the implications of the election, AmCham Taipei will be organizing a series of events at which political analysts will present their views.
The first such event took place July 17 at a luncheon meeting at the Regent Taipei. AmCham President William Foreman moderated a panel discussion featuring Alexander Chieh-cheng Huang, Associate Professor at Tamkang University’s Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies; former AIT Director William A. Stanton; and Stephen Yates, CEO of DC International Advisory.
Among the key points emerging from the discussion:
- The major issues deciding the election will be a combination of cross-Strait relations, the state of the economy, and various social issues.
- President Tsai Ing-wen’s bid for reelection is benefiting from the hard line being taken by Beijing on such matters as the Hong Kong extradition law and the crackdown on Uighurs in Xinjiang. The PRC aggressiveness makes it harder for the KMT to defend the “One China” position of the 1992 consensus.
- The incumbent generally enjoys a certain advantage in being able to attract media attention and launch policy initiatives. Also to Tsai’s advantage is that the current Taiwan-U.S. relationship is better than it has ever been.
- KMT candidate Han Kuo-yu, the recently elected mayor of Kaohsiung, is highly charismatic and appeals to a segment of the population that is anti-elite and blames the establishment political leaders of the past for having failed to deliver.
- If Mayor Ko Wen-je enters the race, he can likely count on support from many young people, even though his policy positions tend to be rather vague.
- Tsai is expected to have the edge in a two-way race. Three-way competitions are much more complicated and difficult to call.