Autore: Aurelio Insisa
In: Asia Maior. XXX / 2019

The year in review was one of the most tumultuous in the recent history of Taiwan and cross-Strait relations. At the beginning of 2019, President Tsai Ing-wen appeared destined for an ignominious defeat after the Democratic Progressive Party’s rout in the 2018 local elections. By the end of the year, her victory in the presidential election looked certain. On 11 January 2020, Tsai won her second term in office beating the controversial Kuomintang candidate Han Kuo-yu. Cross-Strait, international, and domestic factors converged to realise this improbable electoral comeback. The stagnation of China’s Taiwan policy over the «1992 Consensus» and the «one country, two systems» formula largely opposed in Taiwan, coupled with the increasingly assertive posture of the People’s Republic of China under the leadership of Xi Jinping, worried the Taiwanese public and revitalised Tsai and the pan-Green camp. The resonance in Taiwan of the unexpected eruption of violent protests in Hong Kong against the local and central government then cleared a path for Tsai’s electoral victory, while exposing the inherent contradictions of the Kuomintang’s own China-friendly approach to cross-Strait relations. Tsai’s recovery benefited also from the deepening support provided by the Trump administration, and from the positive spillover effects of the Sino-American trade war, which fostered a convincing economic growth in the period leading up to the election. Within Taiwanese politics, the populist wave raised by Han Kuo-yu swept over the Kuomintang and appeared ready to conquer national politics throughout the first half of 2019. However, it ultimately failed to address the concerns of the domestic electorate over the future status of Taiwan and also dragged the pan-Blue camp to defeat in the legislative election, in which the Democratic Progressive Party obtained a stable parliamentary majority to support Tsai’s second term in office.

Aurelio Insisa | The University of Hong Kong |