Jerome A. Cohen. Why the elections in Taiwan matter so much – for Beijing, the region and the US. SCMP (South China Morning Post)

January 15, 2016

The anticipated turnout for Saturday’s presidential and legislative elections in Taiwan will be relatively modest compared with its great importance in so many respects.

A major question, of course, is whether – if the Democratic Progressive Party’s candidate Tsai Ing-wen wins – her administration can manage a smooth transition to the next stage of Taiwan’s relations with mainland China. Taiwan’s quickly evolving identity has yet to be adequately reflected in cross-strait relations, and it is time for intergovernmental relations to catch up with social progress on the island and its new demands.

A related question is whether the Kuomintang can pull up its socks and regroup after the election or whether it will split into two or more parties, and the election’s outcome may have a big impact on this.

The election will also have an impact on the island’s economic policies. If Tsai wins, it may prove more difficult for the trade in services agreement with the mainland to win legislative approval, for the trade in goods agreement negotiations with the mainland to be concluded and for other steps to be taken to integrate the two economies. Correspondingly, we can expect greater emphasis from a new DPP government on expanding relations with its Southeast Asian neighbours, Japan and South Korea, and the US. A Tsai victory would also mean greater emphasis on promoting the economic prospects of the less-affluent members of society.

To read the entire article please click here.