AA Edit | Taiwan vote reinforces freedom spirit

Taiwanese seem determined to keep clear of China's dream of unification despite the threat of invasion that China is unlikely to forswear

The people of Taiwan celebrated their right to vote with a clear-cut endorsement of the independence-leaning candidate Lai Ching-te of the Democratic Progressive Party in the presidential polls. The result is only likely to further exacerbate global tensions as China fumes at the free world’s reaction, interpreting it as open encouragement to Taiwanese separatist forces.

The election saw China bringing enormous pressure on the Taiwanese to vote for the pro-China candidate Hou Yu-ih of the Kuomintang, flying military jets daily over the self-ruled island, sailing naval ships and sending “weather” balloons as messages of warning.

The Taiwanese seem determined to keep clear of China’s dream of unification despite the threat of invasion that China is unlikely to forswear, given that in history it lost the territory to Japan in 1895 and regained it after World War II only to see General Chiang Kai-shek flee there with his nationalists and rule Taiwan for decades.

To live in China’s gigantic shadow has been the lot of the Taiwanese, a majority of whose people find a resonance in independence and keeping some distance from the imposing mainland just across the Taiwan Strait. They have voted Mr Lai Ching-te’s party to power for a third term.

The people of Taiwan, one of whose strengths is building their country into the microprocessor chip capital of the world, have been inured to living with the Chinese supremo Xi Jinping’s threat to use force to take over the island.

Not even the assurance of the President-to-be (in May he will be sworn in) that he would seek a balanced approach to China ties, including cooperation, appear to have assuaged China’s sense of hurt as evidenced in its thinking that Taiwan is a lost territory that must be regained.

The US President Joe Biden sounded as if he intended to placate China in stating soon after the election that the US was not supporting Taiwan’s independence and yet his promise to come to the defence of Taiwan with military intervention, thereby scotching strategic ambiguity, has long shaken US-China ties.

Already riddled with a near two-year war in Ukraine, 100 days of the Gaza war and US-UK intervention in striking Houthi targets in Yemen, China’s stand on Taiwan that could harden with the latest election result could be one more strand to the modern narrative of a troubled world.

Next Story