3 avenues available to China if Taiwan reelects Pres. Tsai: IR expert

Election results will have significant bearing on US, China’s future policy towards Taiwan: Templeman

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President Tsai Ing-wen

President Tsai Ing-wen (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — An international relations expert has predicted three possible reactions Beijing could have if Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is re-elected this Saturday, Storm Media reported on Monday (Jan. 6).

Kharis Templeman, an adviser for the Project on Taiwan at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, authored a report titled “Taiwan’s January 2020 elections: Prospects and implications for China and the United States.”

In the report, which was published in December, Templeman said President Tsai of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) appears more likely to be re-elected now than six months ago, when her “path to re-election looked difficult.”

Templeman attributed Tsai’s improved electoral position to the months-long protests in Hong Kong, steady economic growth in Taiwan, continuous pressure from Beijing, missteps by the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party, potential independent rivals, and tense relations between the U.S. and China.

Templeman said the election results will have a significant bearing both on China’s future policy towards Taiwan and on the U.S.

He pointed out that China has been engaging in pressure campaign against the Tsai administration over the last four years, not only suppressing Taiwan’s international participation and ratcheting up military exercises and behind-the-scenes influence operations "but also selectively engaging with China-friendly elements of Taiwanese politics and society as well as expanding the array of benefits available to Taiwanese on the mainland.”

If Tsai wins the election, it means the failure of Beijing to achieve the strategy’s objective, Templeman said, adding that in this case, Beijing is left with a hard choice: “double down, recalibrate, or fundamentally reassess its Taiwan policy.”