Cross-strait standoff unlikely to end in Tsai's 2nd term: U.S. scholar

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Larry Diamond, a professor of sociology and political science at Stanford University. Image taken from facebook.com/larry.diamond.923

Larry Diamond, a professor of sociology and political science at Stanford University. Image taken from facebook.com/larry.diamond.923

China is unlikely to back down from its hardline stance against Taiwan in the wake of the Jan. 11 general elections that resoundingly gave Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) a second term, according to an American scholar.

Larry Diamond, a professor of sociology and political science at Stanford University and a senior fellow at the school's Hoover Institution, told CNA in a recent interview that the Chinese communists never seem to learn from history, despite the lessons that intimidation against Taiwan "will not work."

Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has been a "calamitous failure" as leader of his country, and the Taiwan election results were the latest indication of that, but there are no signs that the Chinese communists are waking up to reality, said Diamond, who was one of the foreign observers in Taiwan during the election.

"As a result, I predict more tensions and intimidation ahead and the need for strong nerves, clear resolve, and sustained partnership between the U.S. and Taiwan to defend the sovereignty and security of the Republic of China, Taiwan," he said.

Looking back over the years, Diamond noted that in 1996, Beijing launched missile tests in the Taiwan Strait in an attempt to influence Taiwan's first direct presidential election, in what became known as the Taiwan Strait Crisis.

Although that tactic failed, Xi sent aircraft carriers through the Taiwan Strait twice before Taiwan's presidential and legislative elections this year, as part of Beijing's unending efforts at military intimidation, Diamond said.

Despite the military coercion, Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) scored a resounding victory, he said referring to Tsai's win over the China-friendly Kuomintang (KMT) candidate Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) by nearly 20 percentage points and the DPP's commanding hold on its legislative majority.

"I think the very heavy and enthusiastic voter turnout was a decisive statement by the Taiwan people in favor of their democracy and against intimidation from mainland China," Diamond said.

"It was a resounding victory for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), for President Tsai personally, and for the majority of the country that opposes integration with China under any kind of formula that resembles the fraudulent promise of 'one country, two systems.'"

Diamond said China now faces "a moment of truth" in Taiwan, as well as in Hong Kong where democracy protests have been ongoing for many months.

The Chinese government can opt for "patient negotiations and accommodation and try to defuse both situations through a more humble and sincere approach," or it can continue with its "bullying, intimidation, and will for domination," which will only push both Taiwan and Hong Kong further away, he said.