Dissatisfaction with Outgoing President Fuels Pro-Independence Party in Taiwan

Expert Pitch

CORNELL UNIVERSITY MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICEJan. 13, 2016 Dissatisfaction with outgoing president fuels pro-independence party in Taiwan

Newswise — Taiwanese voters will elect a new president and parliament later this week, with polls currently favoring the Beijing-skeptic and pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, and its leader Tsai Ing-wen. Allen Carlson, associate professor in Cornell University’s government department, says that Tsai’s advantage in the polls is a product of voters’ dissatisfaction with the ruling party on domestic issues, not the signal of a potential future break with Beijing.

Bio: www.government.arts.cornell.edu/faculty/carlson/

Carlson says:

“Beijing, which has long insisted Taiwan is a part of China, has cultivated a warm relationship with the island’s outgoing leader, Ma Ying-jeou. It is highly unlikely that it will manage to maintain such cordial ties with Tsai Ing-wen.

“Tsai’s popularity appears to be more a product of wide-spread dissatisfaction in Taiwan with Ma Ying-jeou — and his party — on a wide range of domestic issues, than it is reflective of opposition among Taiwanese to maintaining good relations across the Taiwan Strait.

“Indeed, most residents of Taiwan seem to be satisfied with the existing status quo with China, which amounts to de facto independence, absent a formal declaration of such status.

“This de-facto independence is unlikely to change during Tsai’s term in office, and Beijing seems able to live with this reality. Should Beijing not be satisfied with this new situation — and act to change it — then Taiwan, China, and the rest of us will be facing a new period of instability in Asia.”

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