A photograph taken yesterday shows former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫), New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) and Taiwan People’s Party Chairman Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) clasping hands outside the Ma Ying-jeou Foundation in Taipei. The picture was meant to be a show of unity.
The men had just emerged from a closed-door meeting to iron out the mechanism by which a joint ticket between Hou, the KMT’s presidential candidate, and Ko, the TPP’s candidate, in a “blue-white alliance” is to be decided. Ma was at the meeting as a witness.
Too much can be read into an image, but the optics do tell a tale.
Chu and Hou, to Ma’s right, are beaming. Their hands are upon each others, and then on Ma’s.
Ko is separated from them, to Ma’s left. His hand is not touching Chu’s or Hou’s, and it appears as if Ma is cajoling Ko to join the handshake.
Ko’s other hand is in a fist. He is barely smiling. If anything, he appears to have an expression of smug recognition that he got what he wanted.
After weeks of stalled talks and a string of stalemates, the two parties agreed on a public poll, with the results to be announced on Saturday.
Although the details are hazy, it seems that a Hou-led ticket is more likely — if the poll results are within the margin of error of other polling — but Ko won the argument on the survey’s format.
On the surface, Ko came out on top because he had little to lose. Hou and Chu might be satisfied when the result is announced, but the KMT’s image and status as the main opposition party, having once been the most powerful party in Taiwan, has been bruised further by this protracted process. It has highlighted intraparty tension and further jeopardized its unity.
The biggest winners were Ma and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), as the agreement has boosted the chances that the Democratic Progressive Party’s candidate, Vice President William Lai (賴清德) — who the CCP calls a “Taiwan independence secessionist” — would be defeated.
Hou’s compromise on a poll to decide the ticket, which he and Chu had vehemently held out against, has Ma’s hand all over it. It was Ko who wanted him to attend after successive rounds of talks had come to nothing.
In pushing KMT-TPP unity, Ma has taken Ko’s side over Hou’s, and by so doing — whether intentionally or not — has created new cracks in the KMT.
It might have been better for the KMT’s integrity and future had it settled for losing the presidency, but improving its power in the legislature — which would have allowed it to maintain its autonomy and dignity.
The emphasis on the alliance and political power for its own sake, without focusing on its principles and policies, has caused tensions within the pan-blue camp, with People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) critical of the alliance for aligning with the TPP instead of approaching his own party.
Soong directed most of his ire at Ma.
While the People First Party might be a spent force, the same might apply to the KMT if the election in January goes poorly for it.
The CCP would not care much either way about the KMT’s fate, as its primary concern is keeping Lai out of the Presidential Office.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has a good reason to avoid a split vote against the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in next month’s presidential election. It has been here before and last time things did not go well. Taiwan had its second direct presidential election in 2000 and the nation’s first ever transition of political power, with the KMT in opposition for the first time. Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was ushered in with less than 40 percent of the vote, only marginally ahead of James Soong (宋楚瑜), the candidate of the then-newly formed People First Party (PFP), who got almost 37
At their recent summit in San Francisco, US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) made progress in a few key areas. Notably, they agreed to resume direct military-to-military communications — which China had suspended last year, following a visit by then-speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan — to reduce the chances of accidental conflict. However, neither leader was negotiating from a particularly strong position: As Biden struggles with low approval ratings, Xi is overseeing a rapidly weakening economy. The economic news out of China has been poor for some time. Growth is slowing;
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) has called on his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) counterpart, William Lai (賴清德), to abandon his party’s Taiwanese independence platform. Hou’s remarks follow an article published in the Nov. 30 issue of Foreign Affairs by three US-China relations academics: Bonnie Glaser, Jessica Chen Weiss and Thomas Christensen. They suggested that the US emphasize opposition to any unilateral changes in the “status quo” across the Taiwan Strait, and that if Lai wins the election, he should consider freezing the Taiwanese independence clause. The concept of de jure independence was first
Ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service on Tuesday last week cut its outlook for China’s credit rating to “negative” from “stable,” citing risks from a slowing economy, increasing local government debts and a continued slump in the Chinese property market. Wasting little time, the agency on Wednesday also downgraded its credit outlooks for Hong Kong and Macau to “negative” from “stable,” citing the territories’ tight political, institutional, economic and financial linkages with China. While Moody’s reaffirmed its “A1” sovereign rating for China, the outlook downgrade was its first for the country since 2017, reflecting the agency’s pessimistic view of China’s mounting debts