2019 forecast: instability in the US-China-Taiwan trilateral In Forecast

Foreign Brief
December 24, 2018
By: Tommy Chai

The domestic political transformation underway in Taiwan is once again changing the dynamics of Taiwan-US-China trilateral relationship. The pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which saw a resurgence in 2016, is now facing a wave of political disillusionment due to its failure to deliver campaign promises. Its defeat in the “mid-term elections” has propelled the comeback of the Kuomintang Party (KMT), which now seeks to revive cross-strait engagement with China.

The KMT believes this is the quickest way to improve Taiwan’s stalling economy and regain popular support in the 2020 General Elections. China makes up 40% of Taiwan’s trade profile and Beijing has targeted the island with sanctions and diplomatic attacks in retaliation to DPP policies. But the KMT will be cautious about aligning too closely with Beijing on economic issues that threaten Taiwan’s democracy and de factoindependence, given the lasting experience of the politically humbling 2014 Sunflower Movement.

For Washington, the DPP’s defeat is both a boon and a bane. On the one hand, Washington has been wary of the rise of ‘deep Greens’ (radical pro-independent supporters) and President Tsai Ing-Wen’s non-acceptance of the ‘1992 Consensus’, which exacerbated China’s suspicions and aggressive activities across the strait. The DPP’s defeat may thus encourage the party to act more prudently in its approach to cross-strait policy in the year ahead. On the other hand, the White House is opposed to Taiwan’s potential drift to Beijing under the KMT’s majority rule in the city and county level.    [FULL  STORY]

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