Taiwan’s Election and Reactions from Asian Powers
On January 14, Taiwan’s voters elected incumbent President Ma Ying-jeou to a second term in office, while also giving his ruling Nationalist Party (KMT) a legislative majority. In this post, we highlight Chinese, Indian and Japanese commentaries on the implications of this election for cross-strait relations and regional politics.
The party-owned press hailed Ma’s electoral victory as one more step closer toward political negotiations with Taiwan:
- The People’s Daily: “The concept of the peaceful development in relations between the two sides across the Taiwan Strait is more deeply rooted….According to the facts, no one can say “no” to peace, no one can refuse negotiations, and no one is willing to close the door of exchange and cooperation, and mutual benefit.”
- Taking note of the intense interest in Taiwan’s election amongst Chinese netizens, the Global Times emphasized the importance of national unity and explained that “systems designed for modern countries are not suitable for gigantic countries like China.”
Indian commentaries focused on the opportunity to expand India’s economic relations with Taiwan, with references to geopolitical competition with China:
- Editorial by The Times of India: “Rich Taiwanese investors are looking for opportunities abroad – which China is capitalising aggressively on. Yet Taiwan doesn`t get much foreign policy attention from New Delhi. It remains a blind spot in India`s `Look East` policy, owing perhaps to some combination of India`s fear of offending China and the [Ministry of External Affairs’] terminal caution.”
- Nitin Pai writes in the Business Standard: “India faces a dilemma. On the one hand, the geopolitical stability suggested by a KMT government means greater economic opportunities for India to engage Taiwan. …On the other hand, a Beijing less preoccupied with issues in its backyard will find it easier to project power elsewhere, including against India. …Unless New Delhi uses the space created by Saturday’s elections to rapidly scale up economic ties, India will have little upside from Ma’s success.”
Japanese newspapers from different ends of the political spectrum converged in their skepticism that Ma’s victory boded more stable cross-strait relations:
- Editorial by the conservative Yomiuri Shimbun: “Of concern is to what extent China and Taiwan can move beyond the focus on economic relations and become closer politically. …A hastily forged political relationship with China would cause instability in Taiwan, thereby leading to cross-strait tension….An emergency across the Strait of Taiwan could escalate and endanger the security of Japan. We hope that Ma will steer his administration with discretion.”
- Editorial by the liberal-leaning Asahi Shimbun: “China still keeps ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan and is expanding its naval power around the island. The current stability in Sino-Taiwanese relations is as fragile as a glass sculpture and far from what constitutes true peace.” In the same editorial, the paper also urged a strengthening of Japan-Taiwan ties through measures such as the signing of a free trade agreement.