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Taiwan - 2020 Elections

Taiwan's presidential election will be held in January, 2020. On 16 September 2019, Terry Gou, the territory's richest man and the founder of Hon Hai Precision Industry, also known as Foxconn, made the surprise announcement that he won't be running. His decision means the race would be between the two major political parties.

At the beginning of 2019, the political parties were to nominate candidates for the 2020 presidential primaries. Even the United States had warned the police and felt the intervention of the mainland in the election. The US President of the Taiwan Association (AIT), Mo Jian, said in a recent TVBS interview to talk about the election in Taiwan: "It is clear that there are external forces in Taiwan trying to change public opinion and pass on false information. This is dangerous." Beijing uses huge resources to support her deliberate candidates, even the direction of public opinion. The CCP mainly used the method of cyberattacks to send false news to help the Kuomintang. Taiwan had arrested more than 30 people, all of whom are involved in using money or sending fake news to influence elections.

Taiwan's premier and entire cabinet resigned 11 January 2019. The move followed the November 2018 trouncing in local elections for the pro-independence ruling Democratic Progressive Party. In Taiwan, it is not unusual for the premier and cabinet to quit after big election losses. Taiwanese media reported President Tsai Ing-wen had asked for Premier William Lai to continue in his post following the electoral defeat, but she finally accepted his resignation in the New Year. Tsai appointed former ruling party chairperson Su Tseng-chang as a replacement.

In the 2016 presidential election, Tsai Ing-wen, took the autumn wind to sweep the fallen leaves, for the Democratic Progressive Party. Tsai Ing-wen had been arguing for two years to reform, but voters did not reward her. In addition to the slashing of the military official pension, offending the military public education ticket source. The Labor Standards Law is the most hard-working labor and youth supporters of the DPP. The overall performance of Taiwan’s GDP is bright, but the people’s pockets have not increased. Many voters criticize Tsai Ing-wen's economic policy, because she is not willing to cut taxes and the economy has not improved.

On 24 November 2018, Taiwan held elections for local administrative departments, and all county and city governments will be re-elected. In recent weeks, as the election period approached the island, the political atmosphere became hotter and hotter. The mainland China also changed the previously used techniques and hoped to have an impact on the outcome of the Taiwan election.

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen quit as leader of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) after it suffered major defeats in key local polls 24 November 2018, a significant blow to her prospects for re-election in 2020. The resignation came as the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party, seen as being close to China, made gains by winning two of the island's most important city posts in mayoral elections. The local elections were seen as a referendum on the administration of the island's independence-leaning president amid growing economic and political pressure from Beijing. Tsai will remain president and her resignation from the party leadership will have no direct effect on the business of the government. "Today, democracy taught us a lesson," Tsai said. "We must study and accept the higher expectations of the people."

In the nine-in-one election, the Democratic Progressive Party was defeated. The Democratic Progressive Party left only six counties and cities in 13 counties and cities. President Tsai Ing-wen, who is also the chairman of the party, spoke in the evening. She said that as the chairman of the ruling party, the result of local elections Taking full responsibility and immediately resigning as the chairman of the DPP, this effort is not enough to disappoint supporters, and I sincerely apologize. The DPP’s county mayor only won the Taoyuan City, Tainan City, Hsinchu City, Keelung City, Chiayi County and Pingtung County. Tsai Ing-wen said that Tsai Ing-wen said, "Today's democracy has given us a lesson. We should accept it with humility, and we should review the public opinion and higher requirements. But the success or failure of an election cannot stop us from complaining. ”

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen is set to run for a second term. The ruling Democratic Progressive Party chose Tsai over former premier William Lai as its candidate for the presidential election slated for January of next year. The party started conducting opinion polls on 10 June 2019 to decide on a nominee. The polls asked how much support each of the two would garner going up against the leading candidates from opposition parties. Tsai had 35.6 percent support, compared to Lai's 27.4 percent. Tsai said: "My most important duty is to unite all the forces necessary to protect Taiwan's democracy." Tsai still faces a rough road to re-election, as the largest opposition Nationalist Party is gaining momentum by winning support from those who criticize Tsai's economic policies.

President Tsai Ing-wen has experienced a miraculous rebound in her political fortunes, thanks in part to record turnouts in Hong Kong for the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square student protests and the ongoing anti-extradition movement. While defending the status quo, Tsai had also shown her support for mass protests that started in June in Hong Kong, and has said she would consider offering asylum to protesters based on humanitarian principles. Events in Hong Kong could not have come at a more opportune time for Tsai as she was facing an unprecedented party primary from her former premier William Lai that could have robbed her of her chance to serve a second term.

Han Kuo-yu, a polarising populist, was largely unknown until becoming the mayor of Taiwan's southern city of Kaohsiung in November 2018. The southern city had been a DPP fortress for 20 years, but Han wooed voters with promises to address a series of financial grievances, including the rising cost of living, stagnant wages, a moribund job market and increasing inequality. Han was chosen in Juy 2019 as the candidate of the opposition and pro-China Kuomintang (KMT) to take on President Tsai Ing-wen, of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), in January's election. The 62-year-old, who is seen as representing neither the mainstream KMT nor Taiwan's political establishment, on 15 July 2019 beat four rivals to the nomination including Taiwan’s richest man Terry Gou, the billionaire founder of tech equipment maker Foxconn.

Han is playing the 'China hope' card as KMT's presidential candidate, pledging close ties with China as an immediate fix to Taiwan's economic woes. Han, in contrast, travelled to the territory in March to talk trade. In June, as the first massive rallies got under way, he said he had no idea about them. Amid a public outcry, he issued three "unquestionable resolutions", as he called them: that he was committed to defend the Republic of China, safeguard Taiwan's democratic system and safeguard the island's way of life.

Lampooned by critics for “taking orders” from the mainland, Han Kuo-yu said "How can the people of Taiwan ever accept the One Country Two Systems that’s implemented in Hong Kong and Macau today? This is absolutely impossible.” Foxconn boss Terry Gou, the other leading contender in the race to be the Kuomintang nominee, also pointed to the anti-extradition protests in Hong Kong and declared the “One Country, Two Systems” policy to have failed there. “We must defend the democratic system of the Republic of China,” added Gou in a series of remarks that shocked observers. With his many investments and business interests on the Chinese mainland, there were concerns that his China policy would be compromised if he ever became president.

In at survey on changes in Taiwanese and Chinese identity among people on the island, National Chengchi University's Election Study Center found that as of June 2019 about 57 percent identified as Taiwanese, while 37 percent said they were both Taiwanese and Chinese. Some four percent said they were Chinese while the rest chose not to answer.

Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je sidestepped a question about the 1992 Consensus in a 2015 interview with Xinhua News Agency in a visit to Shanghai. Decidedly low-key when the anti-extradition protest movement broke out in Hong Kong, voters inclined towards Taiwan independence have viewed Ko with suspicion. Ko Wen-je were to run, he would have a slim chance at winning but could act as a spoiler for Tsai, according to an opinion poll released Monday (July 22). In the poll, released by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation (TPOF), if Ko joined the race, the itinerant Kaohsiung City mayor would lead with 33.5 percent, just ahead of Tsai with 32.6 percent, while Ko would finish last, receiving only 25.5 percent. On the other hand, many pundits believe that if Foxconn tycoon Terry Gou were to run as an independent candidate, then he might siphon off enough votes from Han to potentially deliver a victory to Tsai.

Former Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian, who is on medical parole, hinted on 26 July 2019 that he would form a pro-independence political party in August. Chen, 68, said via a Facebook post that he is “pleased to see the birth of a new political party, the ‘One Country on One Side Action Party’.” He is still a member of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Chen, who was convicted of three bribery charges, was released from prison on medical parole in 2015 after serving five years of a 20-year sentence. Therefore, it is unclear whether Chen would play an active role in the forming of the possible new political party. Chen has criticized the DPP, which holds a majority of seats in the legislature, for not pushing ahead with legislation that would help realize his idea of “one country on one side.”

Gou had fueled speculation he would run for president after announcing his intention to leave the main opposition Nationalist Party in early September 2019. Gou had failed to secure the party's nomination and was widely expected to run as an independent. But with his name off the ballot, the race is effectively down to two candidates: Incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen, and the man who beat out Gou, Han Kuo-yu. The current mayor of Kaohsiung powered the Nationalists to sweeping victories in local elections last November.

The two front-runners scrambled after Gou's supporters. At first glance, his decision would seem to benefit Han Kuo-yu. They are members of the same Nationalist Party, so it would seem natural for people who supported Gou to shift to Han. And while some might, there's a large number of people, particularly younger voters, who do not support the Nationalist Party. Their votes are now likely go to Tsai Ing-wen.

According to the latest survey released by the Green Party, 49.1 percent of respondents chose Tsai, while only 32.25 percent opted for Han. This represents a gap of 17 percent, with Tsai maintaining an even greater lead than the 16.3 percent shown in an ETtoday poll posted a week earlier. The Green Party said that it was the largest gap seen so far in its presidential election polls.

The election comes down to what kind of relationship the Taiwanese people want with China. Tsai's Democratic Progressive Party is pro-independence and Taipei has experienced increasing friction with Beijing under her leadership. A number of countries have cut ties with Taiwan in favor of China during her tenure, with the Solomon Islands becoming the latest to do so on Monday. Beijing has also stepped up military drills around the territory.

Tsai has been critical of Chinese president Xi Jinping's proposal to apply Hong Kong and Macau's "one country, two systems" principle to Taiwan. She has accused Beijing of trying to swallow the territory, and says things must remain the way they are. On the other side, Han is pro-Beijing. He has proposed policies aimed at luring Chinese tourists back to Taiwan. Their numbers have diminished under Tsai's government. But he has been very cautious and has yet to propose a detailed plan on ties with the mainland.

China wants Tsai to lose. It remains to be seen how Beijing will try to influence voters during the campaign. This is a close race. Earlier this year, Han was leading by nearly 30 percentage points. She suffered a huge setback in regional elections last November, prompting her to give up the party helm. But Xi's "one country, two systems" comment has given Tsai a boost and she is now leading in some polls. The protests in Hong Kong have also helped her, with worry growing in Taiwan that Beijing will look to increase its influence to avoid a similar situation there.

On the other hand, there are concerns that if Tsai is re-elected, Taipei's relations with Beijing may worsen. This could have huge implications on the Taiwanese economy, making everyday life more difficult for ordinary citizens.

Former top KMT official James Soong entered Taiwan's presidential race on 13 November 2019, representing the People First Party he founded in a move that could draw support away from pro-China opposition KMT candidate Han Kuo-yu. Soong, whose party favors a gradual rapprochement with China, could split the "blue" vote: people who oppose Taiwan forging an identity for itself on the international stage, something that Beijing has blocked at every turn.

"The election on Jan. 11 for the president of the Republic of China will be my sixth and final campaign," said Soong, a veteran politician with deep roots in the former nationalist KMT-ruled Republic of China that fled to Taiwan after losing a civil war to Mao Zedong's communists in 1949. Soong said he decided to run again after Taiwan's richest man, the Foxconn boss and billionnaire Terry Gou, announced he would be withdrawing from the race, causing him "sleepless nights." Soong will run on a platform that favors maintaining the sovereignty of the Republic of China -- which now controls the islands of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu -- rather than supporting a specifically Taiwanese identity on the world stage.

KMT hopeful Han Kuo-yu, whose campaign had been marred by gaffes and a perception that he lacks diplomatic skills, has also vowed to defend the Republic of China and to uphold freedom and democracy, but his campaign includes a commitment to "love Chinese culture," differentiating him from the "green" vote that prefers a Taiwan-centric world view. Han Kuo-yu is dragged the election into populist rhetoric. Han's attack on the media during the presidential debate reflects the populist nature of his campaign strategy.

Incumbent president Tsai Ing-wen and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have focused the campaign on safeguarding Taiwan's sovereignty and its democratic way of life. Her opponent, Han Kuo-yu, is the populist mayor of the port city of Kaohsiung from the opposition Kuomintang party (KMT). Han promises to strengthen Taiwan's security and improve the economy by building a better relationship with Beijing.

Hong Kong serves as a vivid example of what unification with the authoritarian system on the mainland really looks like. As Chinese President Xi Jinping has said the "one country, two systems" framework is the ideal way to unite mainland China with Taiwan, Taiwanese people have been warily following the developments in Hong Kong.

The ongoing protests in Hong Kong have made the sovereignty question even more salient than in past. "Hong Kong people have showed us that 'one country, two systems' is definitely not feasible," President Tsai said. "Under 'one country, two systems,' the situation continues to deteriorate in Hong Kong. The credibility … has been sullied by the [Beijing] government's abuse of power."

As the election drew near, there were many reports of Beijing-based online disinformation campaigns targeting Taiwanese voters. It wouldn't be the first time. During local elections in November 2018, Taiwan saw a surge of online disinformation and fake news. To fight disinformation ahead of the election, Facebook shut down dozens of pages, and opened a "war room" in its Taipei office. The war room will allow experts from Facebook to be in close contact with Taiwan's Central Election Commission, law enforcement authorities and campaign headquarters of all three presidential candidates. Despite these widespread measures, China's disinformation strategy has also evolved, with Beijing shifting focus to YouTube and the popular messaging app Line.

Taiwan's incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen gained a second term after soundly defeating her main rival in the presidential election. In a news conference, Tsai said the results have a special significance. She said they show that Taiwan's people will shout their determination even more loudly when their sovereignty and democracy are threatened. Tsai said; "I want to once again call upon the Beijing authorities to remind them that peace, parity, democracy and dialogue are the keys to cross-strait interaction and long-term stable development. These four words are also the only path to bringing together and benefitting both our two peoples." The Central Election Commission said Tsai had a record more than 8.2 million votes, 1.3 million more than her 2016 victory. That compared with Nationalist Party candidate Han Kuo-yu, who had 5.5 million.

The result is a blow for Beijing, which views Taiwan as its own territory and has made no secret of wanting to see Tsai turfed out. China's Taiwan Affairs Office said the government is willing to work with its compatriots in Taiwan to promote the peaceful development of cross-strait relations and advance the peaceful reunification of the homeland. It also said the government wants to jointly create a bright prospect for the great resurgence of the Chinese people based on a shared belief in the One China principle and opposition to Taiwan's independence.

Official results showed the DPP managed to retain its majority in the island's unicameral parliament with 61 out of 113 seats, while the KMT took 38 seats.

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Page last modified: 13-01-2020 18:54:19 ZULU