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A closer look at the KMT's pick for Taiwan vice president

Who is Jaw Shaw-kong, KMT running mate to Hou Yu-ih?

Kuomintang presidential candidate Hou Yu-ih and running mate Jaw Shaw-kong. (KMT photo)

Kuomintang presidential candidate Hou Yu-ih and running mate Jaw Shaw-kong. (KMT photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Kuomintang (KMT) presidential candidate Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜) will seek election with Jaw Shaw-Kong (趙少康) as his running mate.

Unlike his opposition counterpart Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), Jaw does not have much of an international profile. So, who is the KMT’s would be second in charge?

In recent years Jaw has been most active as a pro-KMT political commentator on TV but began his career in local politics. In the 1990s he was first elected to Taiwan’s legislature in a record turnout, but retired from politics after he lost the Taipei mayoral election to Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) in 1996.

Jaw’s background as the child of Chinese parents means he represents the “mainland faction” of the KMT. This puts him in contrast with Hou, who has a Taiwanese family background.

An English language article from 2004 described Jaw as “a unification fundamentalist.” In recent media appearances and commentary, Jaw has discussed his view that peace with China will help avoid war.

In 2001 Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi (王毅) restated Beijing’s position that there is only one China and that both sides of the Taiwan Strait must be unified, per the China Times. Jaw responded to the comment by saying that Wang ought to explain to the Taiwanese the benefits of unification, rather than “bullying” Taiwan.

In an episode of Jaw’s show “Shaw-kong War Room (少康戰情室)” broadcast in May, he indicated he would like Hou to clarify his stance on the 1992 consensus. “If the DPP asks Hou Yu-ih about the 1992 consensus, all he says is that he opposes ‘one country two systems,’ and opposes Taiwanese independence,” he said.

Jaw said Hou responded that way because the DPP view the consensus and “one country, two systems” as the same thing, which he said they are not. In the same episode, he also advocated for closer business links between China and Taiwan.

Jaw has opposed critics who label him a supporter of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). He said that he rejects the idea that if you express opposition to the U.S. that means you are a communist sympathizer, saying “it’s simple, we just want peace.”

He has also been labeled a “U.S. skeptic (疑美論).” In the same episode of his television show, he said he believes the majority of U.S. people do not want to fight in a war, but added he believes the U.S. military-industrial complex does.

On Taiwan independence, Jaw said that he believes those advocating for this idea are also Chinese, and questioned why the CCP would target them in possible military action against Taiwan. “Chinese people don’t fight Chinese people,” he said in 2022, per Storm Media.

Jaw said that he believed those who support Taiwan independence are in the minority, and that military force should not be used in any circumstances to solve issues between the two sides. That makes one point, at least, he has in common with his DPP counterpart, who said the same on Thursday.