Taiwan Election 2024: Lai Ching-te Leads, Challenges in Relations with China


Taiwan Election – The General Election Commission of Taiwan is still counting the results of the presidential election held on Saturday, January 13, 2024. Data as of 20:30 Indonesia time shows that Lai Ching-te, the presidential candidate from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), is leading with 40.1 percent of the votes, outperforming his opponents.

Following behind Lai is the candidate from the Kuomintang (KMT), Hou Yu-ih, with 33.5 percent. In the last position is Ko Wen-je from the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) with 26.5 percent. Observers predict that Lai will win the presidential election based on these trends.

“It’s okay because in this election, the winners are the people of Taiwan and democracy. The Taiwanese people determine their own destiny,” said Ko in a speech broadcasted live on TVBS at 20:13 local time or 19:03 WIB.

Lai, the current vice president, expressed gratitude to his supporters. However, he acknowledged that the DPP did not win a majority in the legislature. He stated that the legislative defeat is a reminder for the DPP to improve itself to regain public trust.

“Taiwan must continue to develop communication skills for development, enhance public involvement in policy-making, and build consensus in society,” he said.

The main question arising is how Lai and the DPP maintain a balance in relations with China. Taiwan, under the One China Principle, is an autonomous province under China with its own authority. However, during the eight years of DPP leadership under President Tsai Ing Wen, relations with Beijing were nearly non-existent.

According to Lai, maintaining peace in the Taiwan Strait is about preserving the status quo based on the will of the Taiwanese people. This involves opening communication as widely as possible with China while not allowing Taiwan to be under any threat.

In the last eight years, Taiwan has developed relations with Western countries, including hosting visits from various top officials, such as U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in August 2022. Beijing views Taiwan’s political stance during this period as separatist moves. Tsai, Lai, and Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu have even been blacklisted by China for allegedly inciting separatism from Beijing.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has repeatedly expressed his ambition to peacefully reunify Taiwan with China. Beijing has also warned the U.S. and its allies not to provoke Taiwan, in this case, the DPP, into promoting independence.

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Public Opinion Of Taiwan Election 2024

Taiwan Election 2024

The tension between Beijing and Taipei worries the people of Taiwan. They fear a possible invasion by China, especially in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine since February 24, 2022.

To address these concerns, all presidential candidates, including Lai, have promised to maintain the status quo with China. This means that, despite the One China Principle, Taiwan will retain autonomy in managing its economy, trade, investments, inter-societal relations, and all non-diplomatic relations.

“Maintaining this status quo is safest for Taiwan. We can travel freely anywhere, and our economy is not dependent on anyone. It’s better not to escalate the situation,” said Lydia Lu, a voter from Taichung, when contacted from Jakarta.

Lu refused to disclose the candidate she voted for, stating that continuously raising independence issues only makes China more emotional and could harm Taiwan.

Don Lin from Taipei revealed that he is an undecided voter. Up until the last moment before casting his vote, he had not chosen between Hou and Ko. He refused to vote for the DPP and Lai, citing a lack of clarity on their intended steps, which he deemed too ambiguous, despite various narratives about Taiwan’s independence.

Meanwhile, CJ Wu, another voter, stated that he would vote for Lai. His reason is not because he sympathizes with Lai or the DPP but because of the promise to open communication on equal terms with China to maintain the status quo as desired by the Taiwanese people. “KMT is too passive, even close to China without bringing the aspirations of the people. In my opinion, with KMT, it will be difficult to have a dialogue that truly represents the status quo according to Taiwan’s future interests,” he said.

Earlier, on Friday, January 12, 2024, the Spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office—China’s Government agency—Chen Binhua, stated on the official website of the institution that the concepts of “Taiwan independence” and peace cannot coexist. As long as Taiwan can maintain this stability, both parties in the Taiwan Strait can enjoy mutually beneficial development.

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