What Does the Recent Taiwanese Election Mean for China?

In early December, after years of being dominated by the Chinese Nationalist Party, the Democratic Progressive Party came out victorious with the help of passionate young voters hoping to change the course of history for Taiwan. The recent Taiwanese election’s surprising outcome has left the rest of the world wondering what’s next?

According to Reuters, “Taiwan and China have been at odds since the end of China’s civil war when the Kuomintang fled to the island leaving the Communists running the mainland. But business ties across the Taiwan Straits have increased since China-friendly Ma Ying-jeou took power in 2008,” giving a bit of backstory to the historically tense relationship between Taiwan and China. Despite the defeat of President Ma Ying-jeou, a leader who has long been very pro-China, many believe that the Democratic Progressive Party should tread lightly in this time of great political transition, especially in regards to Taiwan’s relationship with China.

Taiwan flag

Image: alveaux via Flickr CC.

“I’d expect Beijing to hold back on awarding Taiwan any more economic goodies during Ma’s last 18 months in office,” explains Sean King, senior vice president of Park Strategies, of the mounting tension that exists between the two nations. He continues, “A future Democratic Progressive Party government would inherit these wins and Beijing would come off as the petulant, spoiled child if it then yanked them away.”

Forbes contributor Ralph Jennings points out that China is the real loser in the Taiwanese election, echoing King’s point that China is less than pleased about the election outcome. “China sees self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory, not a country,” he explains, of the way in which China has always dominated Taiwan, despite the fact that it’s self-governed. “The Nationalists will rise again, if not in 2016 then some other year when the opposition party goofs and pushes back the public opinion pendulum,” he posits.

Time will tell how the historic election will impact China and its relationship with Taiwan, but for now at least, Taiwan can celebrate the progressive momentum it’s experiencing.

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