As the political tension and anxiety rise after the last week’s Taiwanese presidential election, talks emerged about the subsequent political path the country would take after the newly elected President Ma Ying-jeou’s installment.
President Ma returned to office to serve his second term after defeating candidate Tsai Ing-Wen by 6 percent, or 800,000 votes, in the Jan. 14 election.
“U.S.-Taiwan relations have grown increasingly close over the past three years under my administration … the mutual trust between high-level officials of our two countries will continue to deepen,” Ma said at the Presidential Office a day after re-election, the Taipei Times reported. Ma plans to further ties with China. The majority of Taiwanese people were in favor of such policy, yet a good portion — represented mostly by the younger generation — voted for candidate Tsai Ing-Wen in the hope of protecting Taiwan’s independent democracy.
Taiwan is an island occupied by those defeated by the Nationalists in 1949 as a result of the Chinese Civil War. The country was internationally recognized, and democracy was established as the political organization of Taiwan. The alliance of the U.S and Taiwan has since gradually developed from a celebrated partnership to a ticking bomb.
The result of the election in Taiwan, however, would not diffuse or resolve the political tension among Taiwan, the U.S and China. Instead, it would fuel the political pressures of the region and delay the explosion of the bomb.
Without Taiwan as an ally, the U.S. would lose the benefits of having a strong line of defense stretching from South Korea down to the democratic nations of Southeast Asia. With the absence of Taiwan as an independent democratic nation, chances are China would use economic force to coerce the country into becoming a Chinese province.
China remains communist state, and there isn’t much evidence of democratization occurring anytime soon. If Taiwan were to increase trade and other forms of economic interactions with China, the political strings attached to these economic deals would soon turn into total political dominance by China. It’s at the same time not in China’s interests to seize Taiwan by means of military force. Such crude decisions would reflect extremely badly on its reputation and severely undermine its recent impressive economic growth and importance on the global stage.
With four more years of governing under President Ma’s administration, it’s likely that Taiwan would continue to move closer to China. I’d agree, but I wouldn’t actively support this movement. In order for China to gain popularity among Taiwanese, China would need to undergo major educational reform — focusing more on moral and ethics.
The reason the majority of Taiwanese decided to move closer to China stemmed from their insecurity and loss of faith in what Taiwan could achieve on its own. This sense of insecurity was a result of the failed governing in Taiwan over the past several years.
The relationships between the U.S., China and Taiwan would only become more tense in the near future. There are no practical solutions to the political stalemate in the region. This isn’t to say that no progress — either political or social — would take place. Gradually, the Chinese economic engine will win over enough Taiwanese leaders and an increase of ties with mainland China would follow.