Taiwan pro-China presidential candidate will struggle

Friday, August 2, 2019

Subject

The outlook for Taiwan's presidential election next year.

Significance

Taiwan’s main opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT), nominated Han Kuo-yu, the populist mayor of Kaohsiung, as its presidential candidate on July 28. He will attempt to unseat President Tsai Ing-wen in the presidential election slated for January 2020. Beijing, meanwhile, is implementing new measures to penalise Tsai for her uncooperative cross-Strait policy.

Impacts

  • Beijing will strongly prefer a Han victory, but will probably avoid a public endorsement.
  • As the election nears, Beijing may tone down military intimidation, which in the past has backfired and aided Taiwan’s China-sceptics.
  • It is by no means certain, as Tsai may claim, that a Han presidency would jeopardise US support for Taiwan.
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