By: Debra Mao and James Nash
With just weeks to go before Taiwan picks its next president, both candidates might be
expected to be crisscrossing the island picking up votes. Instead, Eric Chu — the ruling Kuomintang Party’s nominee — is in Washington, 12,600 kilometers (7,800 miles) away.
Chu’s five-day U.S. trip, which includes stops in ethnic Chinese enclaves in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, is all the more remarkable considering the New Taipei mayor is trailing far behind opposition leader Tsai Ing-wen in opinion polls. He entered the race last month after his party abruptly dumped its unpopular candidate.
The late cross-Pacific campaign swing shows the enduring U.S. influence over Taiwanese politics, even after years of flourishing trade with China, its one-time civil war foe. Just as important as stumping on the streets of Taipei is shoring up the U.S. backing that gives Taiwan a measure of geopolitical leverage over Communist Party leaders in Beijing. Tsai made a similar political pilgrimage to Washington in June. [FULL STORY]