AS Taiwan’s presidential rivals hold mass rallies for a final push to convince voters before going the polls on Saturday, it is clear that this election is mainly a referendum on Taiwan’s relationship with China. In the race are incumbent president Tsai Ing-wen from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Kuomintang (KMT) or Nationalist Party’s Han Kuo-yu, also the mayor of Kaohsiung city.
Just over a year ago, Tsai’s prospect of re-election looked so dim after a humiliating local elections in 2018 which resulted her stepping down leader of DPP.
Now, she is now expected to claim an easy victory, based on media polls.
Taiwan’s favour of Tsai is largely courtesy of domestic fears over China, who is set to steer Taiwan’s reliance away from mainland China both economically and in other respects.
According to Dr Roy Anthony Rogers from University Malaya’s Department of International and Strategic Studies the projection has been clear and consistent, and that DPP has always been leading.
For Han Kuo-yu, his message is more focused on the mainland’s impact on Taiwan’s economy.
“He (Han Kuo-yu) says, as much as the DPP is being antagonistic towards the mainland, Taiwan must admit that this will affect the economy.
“But Tsai is also trying her best, initiating programs and policies to boost Taiwan’s economy. So I don’t think the economic factor which the Kuomintang candidate is trying to highlight will effect voters,” he says.
However, for the Taiwanese, the protest and fallout in Hong Kong puts them in fear that they may be next if China ever succeeds in bringing them under its control.
“Beijing is trying hard to sell the concept ’one country two system’ but has been unsuccessful.
“The Taiwanese has been observing the Hong Kong protest closely and they are convinced that this ‘one country, two system’ is not applicable.
“The protest is a wake up call for the Taiwanese and is now a plus point for DPP’s Tsai Ing-wen,” he says.
Should Tsai gets re-elected, will her administration maintain status quo in relations with Beijing? And will China hardened its stance on the island republic, it claims as territory?