Date: Jun 21 2019
By: Huileng Tan
- Recent massive Hong Kong protests against the territory’s China extradition bill has bolstered Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s political position.
- Tsai won her party’s nomination for the 2020 presidential election, overturning previously unfavorable polls.
- China prefers the opposition Kuomintang party, which avoids talk of going it alone and instead, stresses economic ties with the mainland
The sentiment that has overwhelmed Hong Kong over the China extradition bill in the past weeks has spilled over to neighboring Taiwan, pushing relations with China to the forefront of upcoming general elections.
“Beijing holds out Hong Kong’s One Country, Two Systems arrangement as the model for eventual unification with Taiwan, which it claims as its own,” Ben Bland, a researcher at Australian think tank Lowy Institute, wrote in a recent note published online. “But (Taiwanese) President Tsai Ing-wen was using the extradition bill, and the massive protests in Hong Kong, to highlight once again why her country must keep its distance from China if it is to remain a vibrant democracy.”
Beijing views self-governed Taiwan as a province that has gone astray, and has been using increasingly aggressive rhetoric toward the island to push for a reunification after a civil war 70 years ago split the two territories.
Now, issues of independence has been thrust under the spotlight in Taiwan after massive protests took place in the streets of Hong Kong over a contentious bill that would allow accused criminals to be extradited to China. Citizens fear that the plan would threaten Hong Kong’s autonomy.