American Enterprise Institute
Date: May 29, 2015
By: Gary J. Schmitt, Michael Mazza
Tsai Ing-wen, leader of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and her party’s
candidate for president of Taiwan, will have her work cut out for her when she arrives in the United States at the end of May. She will aim to show voters back home that she can represent Taiwan effectively on the international stage, can advance the island’s interests, and can competently handle Taiwan’s relationship with Washington, Taipei’s most important security partner.
Tsai’s task is particularly tricky as she must convince Washington that, as president, she would not pursue de jure independence, while being careful not to stray too far from her party’s pro-independence leanings. Although Beijing continues to view Taiwan as a “renegade province,” separated from the mainland at the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, the island is for all intents and purposes an independent state, completely autonomous from the mainland and a representative democracy to boot. Even so, the current Taiwanese administration, headed by the Kuomintang (KMT), retains the view that there is only “one China,” which includes the island of Taiwan.
Unfortunately for Tsai, whether her visit counts as a success will not be entirely up to her. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which maintains a party-to-party relationship with the ruling Kuomintang, has long been wary of the independence-leaning DPP. Beijing has already begun warning Tsai not to engage in “pro-independence” activities while in the United States. Just last week, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office issued a statement, explaining “we firmly oppose any person engaging in any form of ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist activities in the international arena.” [FULL STORY]