A new study by the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation concludes that despite the political heat being generated by Taiwan’s presidential election, “there appears to be a degree of convergence in the cross-strait policies of the two parties.”
“The outpouring of media attention on Taiwan’s elections has distorted public perception, since much of the public discussions have been guided by subjective interpretations that fuel misconceptions regarding the degree of polarization in Taiwanese politics,” it says.
Written by Russell Hsiao, a research fellow at the Project 2049 Institute, the study says the race between President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) remains too close to call.
“Whether President Ma wins a second term or Taiwanese voters decide to give the DPP a second chance, the driving force is becoming less and less about independence or unification,” the study says.
“The DPP’s cross-strait policy is a clear reflection of that trend,” Hsiao writes.
“In either case, Taiwan is not on an inevitable path of reunification under the People’s Republic of China nor is it headed in an inseparable path toward independence,” he says.
Hsiao concludes that the tight race, coupled with the fact that an overwhelming majority of Taiwanese voters prefer the “status quo,” means that voters will not accept — nor could any political party commit to — making any “dramatic shift.”
Hsiao says there has been a fundamental shift in Taiwanese politics since 2008.
“Democratization in Taiwan and its elections in particular — which some observers have come to see as a flash point of instability — appear to have become a stabilizing force for cross-strait relations,” he writes.
“The sooner Washington and Beijing start listening to Taiwanese voters and stop treating each presidential election in Taiwan as a zero-sum game, the faster Taiwan’s democratic consolidation could turn out to be the silver lining for Washington and Beijing for ensuring a peaceful and stable cross-strait environment,” he writes.
Hsiao says that an analysis of recent polls in Taiwan shows that despite the rapid expansion of cross-strait ties under the KMT government — which include seven rounds of cross-strait talks, 16 agreements and one “consensus” on Chinese investment in Taiwan — the people “still overwhelmingly prefer the status quo to any alternatives.”
“Furthermore, this trend suggests fears over increasing economic integration between Taiwan and China would lead to political integration have not materialized in the past four years,” he says.
“Whether it will in the long term remains to be seen. The short and medium term trends, however, indicate there is at best a weak correlation between increasing economic ties and a change in the people’s preference for independence or unification,” he writes.
It appears increasingly clear, he says, that unilateral changes by either party toward unification or independence would not be widely supported by voters.
Unless Beijing decides to intimidate Taiwanese voters by launching missile tests over the Taiwan Strait as they did in the 1995-1996 missile crises, or renounce the use of force and withdraw the array of missiles now threatening the island, or if Washington revokes the Taiwan Relations Act, the status quo is likely to remain as it is for the foreseeable future, the Jamestown study says.
FATAL FIRE: The health department is trying to contact the inspector who visited the site of the illegal nursing home to ask why they did not advise follow-up checks The Taipei City Government yesterday said that a health department inspector last year had visited the site of a long-term care facility in Neihu District (內湖) after receiving a report questioning its status. A fire broke out at the facility on Tuesday afternoon, killing three people. The Taipei Fire Department said that it received a report about a fire on the first floor of a four-story residential building on Kangning Road Sec. 1 at 2:38pm on Tuesday, firefighters arrived at 2:43pm and the fire was put out by 3:07pm. The firefighters found three men in beds and rushed them to hospital for
Taipei City Councilor Wang Hao (王浩) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Monday called for security improvements to the MRT, as fare evasion has increased more than 13-fold on the metropolitan railway system over the past five years. Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) has spoken out against fare evasion and other contraventions of MRT regulations, but since he took office in 2015 the number of contraventions has more than doubled, Wang said, adding that there were 537 cases in 2015 compared with 959 last year. A video was posted to YouTube in June showing people how to evade paying a fare,
FEELING MISUNDERSTOOD: Media speculation has fueled confusion about the KMT’s reasons for skipping a Chinese forum and delaying an AIT meeting, party sources said The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Sunday said that it is not seeking to improve relations with the US or China at the expense of the other, and that its relations with the countries would be topic-based. The party has faced questions over its foreign policy after it on Monday last week announced its withdrawal from the annual Straits Forum and delayed planned talks with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). The party has also taken a tough stance on the importation of US meat containing ractopamine, while also lambasting China for increasing its military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait. Following
Yuchi Township (魚池) fishers have appealed to the Nantou County Government for help in dealing with an invasive fish species in Sun Moon Lake (日月潭), where it has devastated the local ecosystem. Fishers at Sun Moon Lake have been using electrofishing in an attempt to eliminate the giant snakehead fish — found in Africa and Southeast Asia — but they have struggled to keep up with the growing population of the species, which breeds during September and October, the county government said on Monday. The county has contacted researchers at National Tsing Hua University, saying it hoped they could come up