Simplifying DPP William Lai’s Win in the Taiwanese Presidential Election

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Unless you live under a rock, you’d know about the Taiwanese Presidential Election.

The latest presidential election, which concluded on 13 January 2024, saw William Lai, the Democratic Progressive Party candidate and current Vice-president under Tsai Ing-wen, emerged victorious with 40.05% of the vote.

His victory suggests a continuation of the status quo, with China reiterating its stance on eventual reunification with Taiwan.

The other two candidates are Hou Yu-ih from the Kuomintang (KMT), and Ko Wen-je from the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP).

Each party represents different stances towards China, with the DPP being less pro-China, the KMT more aligned with China, and the TPP being non-committal.

Yes, this means China isn’t happy.

Now, if this is confusing, read on.

The China-Taiwan Relationship

To grasp the significance of these elections, one must first understand the China-Taiwan relationship.

Since Taiwan’s split from China in 1949, China has considered Taiwan a part of its territory.

However, Taiwan’s own view on this matter varies depending on whom you ask.

Most of the world adheres to the “One China” policy, officially recognizing China while maintaining unofficial ties with Taiwan.

For decades, the KMT, seen as pro-China, dominated Taiwan’s politics.

However, in 2000, the DPP, which leans towards independence and, by extension, closer ties with the US, gained power.

KMT gained back power from 2008 to 2016, but Tsai Ing-wen created history when she became the second DPP President, and of course the first female President in Taiwan.

The shift to independence was exemplified by Tsai Ing-wen in the last few years, who broke several norms, including direct communication with US President Donald Trump and meetings with former US House Speakers Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy, actions that drew ire from China.

Now, interestingly, William Lai’s running mate, who’ll be the next VP, is someone who was the Representative to the US, so based on optics, it’s like a nod to the US.

China’s Response

You can bet that China isn’t happy with the latest results.

Often calling William Lai “dangerous” and a “troublemaker”, they’ve since responded, saying that the DPP doesn’t represent the mainstream public opinion in Taiwan.
They also emphasised that reunification with Taiwan remained inevitable.

In the meantime, other countries have congratulated William Lai.

As to what’s going to happen soon, we can only wait and see.

William Lai’s inauguration will take place on 20 May 2024.

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