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Saturday, January 16, 2016

Tsai wins presidential election

DPP's return to power sparks celebration in Taiwan, while trepidation in mainland China grows

Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] candidate Tsai Ing-wen claimed victory in Taiwan's presidential elections Saturday, becoming the first woman elected to the position in the southeast-Asian country. Running as a reformer, Tsai garnered large swaths of support from young voters, along with people across the age spectrum who support the movement to declare independence from China.

Chinese officials are speaking about the election bluntly, reminding Taiwanese citizens that while they accept the nation's current separation it is considered temporary, and as such will not work with any party which entertains the notion of full independence. Though the 'One China Policy' is still official decree in both nations, secession voices once strong under former President Chen Shui-bian's leadership have begun to rise once again.

Ties between the island country and its mainland overseer did become closer under the last eight years of Nationalist Party rule in Taiwan, though many saw the issue as forced, with dissenting voices being squelched or - in some cases - silenced. Today's election points to an anger and frustration with China's heavy-handed manner, which marks a potential shift in Sino-Taiwanese relations that could reverberate globally.

Bear in mind that, while the United States [US] accepts the 'One China Policy' as a matter of course, they are still treaty-bound to defend Taiwan if China were to use military action to assert and enforce the aforementioned policy. That noted, the flaccid approach to international affairs the US has embraced under the current administration virtually guarantees there will be no support from the western power, which could leave Taiwan in a vulnerable situation.

Speculation suggests that, while I celebrate with the people of Taiwan today, if Tsai chooses to follow the sovereignty path once encouraged by former president Chen (and who could blame her for so doing, especially since she has stated she shall), tensions in the region will escalate. If said-tensions reach a boiling point it will drag the rest of the globe into the fray, making the likelihood that a third world war would erupt an almost-certain - yet catastrophic - bet.

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