Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rising Chinese pressure in Taiwan



Rising Chinese pressure in Taiwan

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen speaks during a press conference at the Presidential Office in Taipei on August 21. Tsai has resigned as head of the ruling party. SAM YEH/afp

Rising Chinese pressure in Taiwan

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan)/ANN: VOTER discontent with the administration of Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has erupted. A weakening of the administration is inevitable. It is indispensable to take precautions against China’s increasing pressure on Taiwan, which could destabilise the situation across the Taiwan Strait.

In local elections held in Taiwan, the number of ruling Democratic Progressive Party heads of local governments more than halved from 13 to six. Tsai resigned as head of the party, saying that she accepts complete responsibility for the outcome.

The local elections were viewed as an interim evaluation of the Tsai administration, which began in 2016, and was also seen as a prelude to the next presidential election, slated for 2020. Although Tsai continues to assume the post of president, her ability to hold things together will decline, making it difficult to foresee whether she will be able to run for re-election.

While the DPP clearly expresses Taiwan independence in its party platform, Tsai has advocated for a continuation of the status quo in the island’s policy toward China: neither independence nor unification.

If pro-independence forces within the DPP gain momentum, tensions with China could heighten. The Tsai administration must minimise the impact of such forces on Taiwan’s relations with China.

China welcomed the results of the elections, saying they “reflected the strong wish of the Taiwan public for an improvement to the island’s economy and people’s well-being.”

Beijing probably considers the DPP’s massive defeat as the fruit of its having maintained its pressure on Taiwan in diplomatic, military and economic spheres, on the grounds of the Tsai administration’s opposition to the “one China” policy.

China has established diplomatic relations with Panama and four other countries, having them ditch ties with Taiwan.

In the waters around Taiwan, China has been conducting military drills more actively. While limiting the numbers of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan, Beijing is extending its support to those from the island who are looking for jobs or schools in China, apparently in a bid to divide public sentiment.

Self-restraint called for

Such deeds can hardly be considered as ones befitting a major power that should assume responsibility for the stability of the Taiwan Strait and the Asia-Pacific region. China is strongly urged to exercise self-restraint.

The pro-China Nationalists, Taiwan’s biggest opposition party, won the mayoral election in Kaohsiung, a key stronghold for the DPP. By reviving the strength of the party, the Nationalists have gained momentum toward taking power from the DPP.

In the local elections, the issue of bilateral relations between China and Taiwan was not a major point of contention.

Nevertheless, it is also a fact that recognition has been spreading that the deteriorated relations between China and Taiwan have been adversely affecting Taiwan’s economy, as evidenced by the drop in the numbers of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan and the sluggishness in exports of its farm products to China.

Public opinion is swinging between wariness over Beijing’s ambition for unification and hopes for the prosperity that China could bring to Taiwan. Whether it is the ruling party or an opposition party, the issue of how much distance Taiwan should maintain from China will continue to be a challenge.

In referendums held concurrently with the local elections, import bans on foods produced in five Japanese prefectures, including Fukushima – bans that have been kept in place since the accident at Fukushima No1 nuclear power plant – were validated by a sufficient number of votes in favour of their continuation.

The Japanese government’s aim of a swift end to the bans has become unforeseeable. The results will likely throw cold water on the good Japan-Taiwan relationship.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro