Taiwan ruling party to elect new leadership following November electoral defeats

Taiwan ruling party to elect new leadership following November electoral defeats

Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)—which asserts separatism from China—will choose a new party leader today to succeed President Tsai

Photo: Reuters/Pichi Chuang

Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)—which asserts separatism from China—will choose a new party leader today to succeed President Tsai Ing-wen, who resigned as party chief following heavy electoral defeats to the China-friendly Kuomintang (KMT) in last November’s local elections.

Tsai will serve out the rest of her term as president but Chinese President Xi Jinping ramped up the pressure on Tsai and the DPP this week in a January 2 speech reasserting Beijing’s claim over Taipei and not ruling out force to reunify the island with mainland China. Beijing has refused to deal with Tsai until she supports the 1992 Consensus—the idea of “One China” despite differences in what that means. For Beijing, it means a Hong Kong-style “one country, two systems”—a future that both the DPP and KMT continue to reject.

While the defeats have dealt Tsai’s re-election chances in January 2020 a major blow, it has not improved Xi’s position vis-à-vis unification. Even if the KMT take back the presidency, expect closer China ties and an acceptance of the 1992 Consensus but don’t expect any agreement on unification unless Xi is prepared to ditch “one country, two systems” in favour of something closer to the full democratic status quo in Taiwan.

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