Published: 11:40, January 14, 2020 | Updated: 08:56, June 6, 2023
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Taiwan poll can't change reunification trend
By Yao Yuxin

Editor's note: Tsai Ing-wen has been re-elected as the leader of Taiwan for the next four years. How will the result affect cross-Straits relations? Two experts share their views on the issue with China Daily's Yao Yuxin. Excerpts follow:

Without 1992 Consensus, Tsai can't improve island economy

In the run-up to the election in Taiwan, candidates chose different cards to play – for example, people's livelihoods versus "political sovereignty". To secure a second term, Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party played the "independence" card against the call for reunification, and used the "US card" to seek Washington's endorsement for their dirty game.

On the other hand, Kuomintang's Han Kuo-yu focused on an agenda to strengthen security and promote prosperity of the island. Almost all Han's supporters criticized Tsai's poor governance and failure on the economic and social development fronts.

Although Han failed, several facts need to be understood.

First, Tsai created a political atmosphere of confrontation with the Chinese mainland to secure votes. Because of the political machinations of Tsai and the DPP, especially their efforts to sever ties with the motherland, Taiwan residents, many youths in particular, have a poor sense of Chinese identity. In fact, the DPP reaped the fruits of hatching political plots to intimidate pro-reunification voices.

Besides, many Taiwan residents failed to realize that the rising tension across the Straits was one of the main reasons for the island's poor economic performance.

Second, some external factors helped Tsai. The mainland announced five proposals for peaceful reunification including democratic consultation based on the principle of "one country, two systems" on Jan 2, 2019. In June, violent protests broke out in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region against a proposed amendment to the extradition law. The Taiwan authorities used the violent Hong Kong protests to spread false propaganda on the island that "one country, two systems" doesn't work. By doing so, the Tsai authorities managed to shift people's attention from their poor economic performance to political issues such as " security threat" to garner more votes.

Third, many DPP-controlled Taiwan media outlets kept spreading canards against Han while keeping silent on Tsai-related scandals.

Fourth, the Kuomintang was not a united house. Terry Gou, Foxconn founder and chairman, quit the party after failing to win Kuomintang's primary polls for the island's leadership election. And Wu Den-yih, Kuomintang chairman, didn't offer full support to Han. The divided Kuomintang should reflect on its failures.

Fifth, Han's fear of being criticized for "being close to the mainland" landed him in the trap set by the DPP. As a result, he could not explain to Taiwan residents that closer relations with the mainland would strengthen Taiwan's security and improve their livelihood.

These complicated factors paved the way for Tsai's re-election. Looking to the future, the Taiwan authorities need to realize that, no matter what tricks they played to win the election, they can't truly guarantee the Taiwan compatriots' well-being and prosperity without recognizing the 1992 Consensus that there is only one China.

Tang Yonghong, deputy director of Taiwan Research Center, Xiamen University

Island authorities must stop making provocative moves

The island election has revealed some undercurrents. For one, the United States' meddling in the election was clearly evident. The US Congress passed a torrent of acts on Taiwan to boost Tsai's chances of winning the election.

The Tsai authorities manipulated the election using the mainland as a target throughout the campaign, and aroused hatred toward Beijing among the youths by hyping up the Hong Kong demonstrations as a "failure" of "one country, two systems".

The election result is also the outcome of the Tsai administration's vicious "de-Sinicization" campaign. By distorting facts in textbooks and trying to sever cultural ties and people-to-people exchanges with the mainland, the DPP managed to brainwash many young voters and draw them away from the Kuomintang, which upholds the 1992 Consensus.

More important, Tsai's speech after being re-elected is a blatant violation of the one-China principle's bottom line. Tsai should refrain from taking more radical actions in pursuit of "Taiwan independence" during her second term, as what she has already done is provocative enough for Beijing.

She should bear in mind that by being a pawn in the US' hands and promoting its "Indo-Pacific strategy" against the mainland, she is serving the interests of neither Washington nor the DPP if she pushes forward "formal independence".

For the people on both sides of the Straits, it should be made clear that reunification is inevitable. The mainland has always sought peaceful reunification, but that is not the only way to achieve the ultimate goal of national reunification.

Zhu Songling, a professor at the institute of Taiwan Studies, Beijing Union University

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.