Taiwan elects new nationalist president, threatening China relations

posted at 10:01 am on January 16, 2016 by Jazz Shaw

It’s getting hard to keep track of all the international news this week, what with so much of the world being on fire and all, but there was a potentially significant development in Taiwan over the past 24 hours. The disputed island nation held their scheduled presidential and parliamentary elections and the early returns indicate that change is in the air. Candidates from the nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which supports independence from mainland China, appear to be carrying the day. (CNN)

Votes are in for a landmark election that’s expected to result in Taiwan’s first female president and could unsettle relations with giant neighbor China.

Voters lined up Saturday at polling stations, and when they closed, surveys suggested that Tsai Ing-wen, leader of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), would win the presidential vote by a significant margin after eight years under the government of the pro-China Kuomintang or Nationalist party.

The ruling party is also in danger of losing control of the legislature for the first time in parliamentary elections, with a record 556 candidates in the race for 113 seats.

This situation had largely calmed down for a while recently (though not entirely) under outgoing President Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang (KMT) party, who had forged some closer ties with Beijing. Having Tsai Ing-wen in power could rip some old wounds open again. It’s not as if we need yet another headache on our hands, but the United States is somewhat irrevocably tangled up in Taiwan’s affairs. Contrary to popular belief, we’re not actually obligated to go to war on their behalf if China attacks them, but under a standing 1979 agreement we do have to provide them with defensive arms. For their part, China has well over 1,500 ballistic and cruise missiles pointed at Taiwan in addition to having a David versus Goliath advantage in soldiers, aircraft and naval forces.

Are we going to be more aggressively pro-Taiwan as part of Barack Obama’s Pacific pivot? It likely won’t put China off from their goals, even if they actually still feared us militarily. (Spoiler alert: that’s pretty unlikely these days.) The Chinese also have a history of flying off the handle and threatening all sorts of retribution if anyone else – specifically America – appears to be poking their nose into the Taiwan question. They previously threatened direct economic sanctions against American companies over a relatively low key arms deal. It would be nice if it stopped at simple trade deal threats, but there’s no telling what China will do on any given day. Roughly one year ago they threatened to arm Hawaiians who want to return the islands to being an independent kingdom over US support of Taiwan.

This situation has been under the magnifying glass for many years now. I’ll point you back to one earlier analysis from David Lampton, who was director of China studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Rather than arguing about arms deals, he looked at the ego of China and why they feel it imperative to retain control of Taiwan.

In effect, the prevention of Taiwan going independent is absolutely critical to the legitimacy of the Chinese communist regime. Chinese leaders believe that, if they were to let Taiwan go independent and not respond, they would probably be overthrown by their own nationalistic people. Therefore, I think they would be willing to engage in what we might call “self-defeating military adventures” in order to prevent that result, even if they knew they were going to lose.

So in my view, the key problem for the United States is how to deter the PRC from using force against Taiwan. We have to be very clear about that, because I think the United States would intervene if force were used under most circumstances I can imagine. But on the other hand, we have to deter Taiwan from engaging in such risky behavior that they precipitate an attack that will be destabilizing to Asia, destroy the Taiwan economy and drag the United States into a regional conflict.

China places a huge value on saving face. One thing they definitely don’t want to see is a situation where Taiwan essentially turns into the equivalent of Cuba for the United States. They don’t need a hostile, or even independent and argumentative nation right off their coast. It would be sign of weakness which their leaders are unlikely to tolerate. The real question now is just how reform minded the new Taiwanese president will be.

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Comment pages: 1 2

The evidence now is that the current has floated up a over paid outsourceing head hunter of wages slaves.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 16, 2016 at 3:43 PM

No need to nuke up any one near China, India knows which way is up.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 16, 2016 at 3:40 PM

India is a basket case. Became independent of the UK a year or so before the PRC was founded. Both countries were about equally poor back then, but at least India had the ‘benefit’ of democracy, British-built infrastructure and hadn’t been mostly destroyed during WWII.

Today India has less than half the per-capita GDP of China.

India indeed.

DarkCurrent on January 16, 2016 at 3:58 PM

I wear his insults and slurs as proof of wins over him.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 16, 2016 at 3:40 PM

Imagine the world however seems easier for you. It’s the American way nowadays.

DarkCurrent on January 16, 2016 at 4:03 PM

In the paperwork you have to show how the candidate you’re trying to hire on an H1-B visa has skills that aren’t locally available and how they are paid approximately the same as locally-hired employees with the same education and work experience.

I can’t be the only commenter on HA that’s ever actually done the paperwork?

It’s a headache and very expensive, so now when possible we just create the jobs overseas to begin with.

DarkCurrent on January 16, 2016 at 3:37 PM

Well, they’re lying on the paperwork then. They’re hiring the visa guys and then they lay off the Americans.

I’ve never done visa paperwork, but I’ve managed offshore teams. Those I don’t mind. The employees can quit their jobs if they want to. That alone puts them on a much more fair footing compared to a regular employee.

The offshore teams are cheaper, but the quality can be hit or miss, and they are more difficult to manage due to language issues and time zone differences.

Magicjava on January 16, 2016 at 4:13 PM

The offshore teams are cheaper, but the quality can be hit or miss, and they are more difficult to manage due to language issues and time zone differences.

Magicjava on January 16, 2016 at 4:13 PM

That’s why the goal should be to move the entire team offshore in the longer-run.

DarkCurrent on January 16, 2016 at 4:30 PM

That’s why the goal should be to move the entire team offshore in the longer-run.

DarkCurrent on January 16, 2016 at 4:30 PM

That’s a judgement call. You run the risk of being unable to support your own product if the offshore deal falls through.

Magicjava on January 16, 2016 at 4:33 PM

Perfect timing.

OT, or not

Scott Brown c/b VP

Mass and NH, and to fight against the Injun witch, in a Sanders/Warren scenario, and now that Cruz did the pooch.

Schadenfreude on January 16, 2016 at 4:57 PM

Today India has less than half the per-capita GDP of China.

India indeed.

DarkCurrent on January 16, 2016 at 3:58 PM

And you believe the numbers? Explains a LOT.

SDN on January 16, 2016 at 5:08 PM

And you believe the numbers? Explains a LOT.

SDN on January 16, 2016 at 5:08 PM

According to the US government China and India

Is the CIA wrong? Perhaps you have better data? If so, let’s see it.

DarkCurrent on January 16, 2016 at 5:41 PM

Scott Brown c/b VP

Mass and NH, and to fight against the Injun witch, in a Sanders/Warren scenario, and now that Cruz did the pooch.

Schadenfreude on January 16, 2016 at 4:57 PM

Wrong answer. He’s a lib who only got elected to be the canceling vote against OCare, which never happened, and then he went liberal and to top it off handed his seat to the aforementioned Warren. He’s a loser.

fossten on January 16, 2016 at 5:49 PM

Didn’t read the whole post, but did Jazz somehow blame this on Obama?!

nonpartisan on January 16, 2016 at 10:10 AM

Why don’t you read the whole post and make that decision for yourself? That would be intelligent and independent thing to do.
But then, leftists do discourage independent thought….which is why you (and leftists like you) wait to be told what to think.
Sorry ’bout that, boy. Someone will be along directly to tell you what to think and how to feel about it.

Solaratov on January 16, 2016 at 7:55 PM

No such thing here of course. The government strictly controls. It’s almost as bad a California.

DarkCurrent on January 16, 2016 at 12:09 PM

That’s harsh, DC.

Solaratov on January 16, 2016 at 8:07 PM

APACHEWHOKNOWS, what the hell is your problem? Dark Current is posting reasonable opinions. I’ve been wanting to ask you for a long time…are you on hallucinogens? Your posts rarely make sense and you seem to want to pass your opinions off as some sort of mystical wisdom.

Misha on January 16, 2016 at 8:22 PM

Didn’t read the whole post, but did Jazz somehow blame this on Obama?!

nonpartisan on January 16, 2016 at 10:10 AM

Why would a free people having a democratic election and chosing one party over another involve blame? That is democracy in action isn’t that OK with you?

KW64 on January 16, 2016 at 8:25 PM

Didn’t read the whole post, but did Jazz somehow blame this on Obama?!

nonpartisan on January 16, 2016 at 10:10 AM

No, he quoted Obama saying that dog is excellent if you remove the fur right after clubbing it and use a low fire and lots of salt.

itsspideyman on January 16, 2016 at 8:31 PM

Alleged ‘combat vet’ was apparently bragging about killing people as if it was something to be proud of.

DarkCurrent on January 16, 2016 at 2:52 PM

We did our job….all over Laos and Cambodia; and even into North Vietnam. And while China (and Russia) gave everybody their “word” that there were no Chinese officers (or Russian) training NVA units, we were happily hunting Chinese (and Russian)officers who were not only training the NVA, but were leading them in combat. And, as I said, we were happily hunting them and gladly killing them when we found them. And find them we did…in Laos and Cambodia, and even Thailand.
All in all…we were very, very damned good at our job.

Solaratov on January 16, 2016 at 8:38 PM

I will never mis ya

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 16, 2016 at 8:42 PM

And what do you know, I’m doing it from China, where HA is available to everyone.

DarkCurrent on January 16, 2016 at 11:26 AM

Been meaning to ask you…can the average Chinese connect to *anything* on the internet, or does the government block certain sites that they find objectionable? And does the government ever give people a “hard time” about anything they might connect to? And, does the government ever shut down the net for any reason?

I’ve been curious about this for a while; and I’d appreciate honest answers.

Solaratov on January 16, 2016 at 8:45 PM

Obama’s fault

Politricks on January 16, 2016 at 9:01 PM

No, he quoted Obama saying that dog is excellent if you remove the fur right after clubbing it and use a low fire and lots of salt.

itsspideyman on January 16, 2016 at 8:31 PM

Thanks for that. I was mistaken. I thought he said it’s excellent if you remove the fur after draining the blood.

Misha on January 16, 2016 at 9:06 PM

There’s no blame to Obama for this election turning out the way it did. There sure as hell *will* be blame to Obama if the PRC starts making threatening motions at Taiwan over any moves toward formal independence and the reaction of the US is to cower before Beijing, followed by actively discouraging Taiwan from said motions.

M. Scott Eiland on January 16, 2016 at 9:18 PM

correction: Ohole said.

“if you have some one else club the dog, skin the dog for you, and tell everyone they never saw the birth certificate nor saw the home movie of old sicko F.’n Marshall Davis smirking and lurking…..?

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 16, 2016 at 9:38 PM

Obama’s fault

Polionetrickpony on January 16, 2016 at 9:01 PM

F X Muldoon on January 16, 2016 at 10:07 PM

Jazz, it’s not about “Taiwan going independent.” The Republic of China (ROC) has been an independent, sovereign state for over a century. They’ve controlled the landmass of Taiwan as a sovereign nation for 70 years. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has NEVER controlled Taiwan. The PRC has had a hostile nation off their coast ever since they stole the mainland from the ROC. The only question is whether the PRC should be allowed to invade and annex their neighbors.

By US standards, Tsai is a moderate progressive Democrat. Don’t expect her to be a friend of capitalism. Of course, her opposition was a bunch of corrupt, cronyist establishment types who were perfectly willing to sell their whole country to China for the sake of cross-strait political donations.

Basically, Taiwan is very young as a democratic republic, and they still have a lot of existential issues to work out before they can get into the questions of capitalist vs socialist reform. The KMT is like their version of the Federalists, and their DPP is like their version of the Democrats. They don’t really have a more libertarian party. But one thing’s for sure about Taiwanese politics: Communism will always be a dirty word, because it was the communists that stole China from them.

This election means Taiwan isn’t going to let China bully them around and try to annex them. They’re going to continue operating as a sovereign nation, independent from China. If the PRC isn’t going to respect that, then we should be VERY concerned about the Chinese Communist Party’s plans for territorial expansion into the Pacific. The US should openly declare that we will not tolerate Chinese aggression against Taiwan.

TBSchemer on January 17, 2016 at 4:58 PM

So in my view, the key problem for the United States is how to deter the PRC from using force against Taiwan.

The simplest and most direct way to do this is to insure that Taiwan maintains air supremacy over the Formosa Strait. As long as Taiwan maintains air supremacy, The China cannot put down and amphibious force or invade from the air. Without invasion and occupation, Taiwan is no longer a prize for the PRC.

paulsur on January 17, 2016 at 6:12 PM

Been meaning to ask you…can the average Chinese connect to *anything* on the internet, or does the government block certain sites that they find objectionable? And does the government ever give people a “hard time” about anything they might connect to? And, does the government ever shut down the net for any reason?

I’ve been curious about this for a while; and I’d appreciate honest answers.

Solaratov on January 16, 2016 at 8:45 PM

Of course it’s well know that China does block certain internet sites, but the average Chinese (to use your phrase) can connect to pretty much everything that’s of interest to them. I don’t recall the government ever ‘shutting down the net’ (I assume by that you mean all internet access in China).

While China does block certain internet sites, most of the internet (except perhaps a lot of porn sites) is not blocked. Any Chinese who are so inclined can go to cnn.com or foxnews.com, for example, and see news from those perspectives, or come here to Hot Air. I doubt very many of them are interested, they’re too busy on WeChat and QQ, but they could if they wanted.

For the non-average user that really wants to get around the firewall, that’s pretty trivial and is done all the time.

DarkCurrent on January 18, 2016 at 12:18 PM

Hey apache nice job hammering current. I would like to suggest a YouTube channel to any of you interested in China. It is called China Uncensored. The people who produce it are pro Chinese people but anti Chinese communist government. It’s enlightening and funny. They put out a video about twice a week and range from 3 to 8 minutes.

this is a longer video on the government treatment of the members of Falun Gong. Very bad stuff but very well produced.

19thgenamerican on January 18, 2016 at 12:37 PM

19thgenamerican on January 18, 2016 at 12:37 PM

Have you spent any time in China, or just seen it on YouTube?

DarkCurrent on January 18, 2016 at 12:47 PM

APACHEWHOKNOWS, what the hell is your problem? Dark Current is posting reasonable opinions. I’ve been wanting to ask you for a long time…are you on hallucinogens? Your posts rarely make sense and you seem to want to pass your opinions off as some sort of mystical wisdom.

Misha on January 16, 2016 at 8:22 PM

I’ve long wondered the same. Now I pretty much just assume it.

DarkCurrent on January 18, 2016 at 12:48 PM

Is it a requirement for one to live or go to a place to have an understanding of their culture and political stances. By your standards, should one who never came to America be able to have opinions or understandings of America and its foreign and domestic policies? Of course this is ridiculous. I think it quite normal for people to be able to understand outside cultures and people with respect, and at the same time understand both there benefits and detriments to their people, and the world. While I admire greatly the Asian cultures and people, I do have problems with the Chinese government. I do have knowledge of China, thank you very, the majority given to me outside of YouTube. I just brought up this particular YouTube channel to further their influence and the knowledge they bring into the world because I feel that it is good and helpful. Less knowledge is not better for anything. In the end I respect you but give you jabs in friendly sparring.

19thgenamerican on January 18, 2016 at 1:55 PM

and at the same time understand both “there
should be “the”

19thgenamerican on January 18, 2016 at 1:59 PM

Is it a requirement for one to live or go to a place to have an understanding of their culture and political stances.

In the end I respect you but give you jabs in friendly sparring.

19thgenamerican on January 18, 2016 at 1:55 PM

It’s certainly very helpful in judging what’s truth and what’s bullshit, wouldn’t you agree?

I take it the short answer to my question “Have you spent any time in China, or just seen it on YouTube?” is “No, mostly just seen it on YouTube.”

I hope you can someday visit and see the reality for yourself. You might find it a little different from what you expect.

DarkCurrent on January 18, 2016 at 2:08 PM

Btw, in recent months I’ve begun sharing Hot Air links on my WeChat Moments (sort of like Facebook Wall, but better) and encouraging my English-capable friends/contacts to take a look. I often provide links to China-related topics so people here can get some insight into American views on China.

Most of those that bother to check it out find these threads pretty entertaining. A few of them can’t wait for the next open registration :)

DarkCurrent on January 18, 2016 at 2:17 PM

Looking forward to more voices. Have to say though to your question, I grew up in Oakland and their is a vibrant Asian culture here, as well as part of my history degree was focused on asian history. So no, my exposure to asian culture and Chinese in particular began since I was a child, but YouTube is a new and interesting source. Take care

19thgenamerican on January 18, 2016 at 4:04 PM

Looking forward to more voices. Have to say though to your question, I grew up in Oakland and their is a vibrant Asian culture here, as well as part of my history degree was focused on asian history. So no, my exposure to asian culture and Chinese in particular began since I was a child, but YouTube is a new and interesting source. Take care

19thgenamerican on January 18, 2016 at 4:04 PM

Growing up in Oakland and earning a partial degree in Asian history is almost like spending decades in Asia…

Can I count my time growing up in Seattle towards my Asian cred too?

开玩笑 ;)

DarkCurrent on January 18, 2016 at 5:00 PM

We did our job….all over Laos and Cambodia; and even into North Vietnam.

Solaratov on January 16, 2016 at 8:38 PM

If your job was to follow orders, lose tens of thousands of American lives, many billions of dollars, and ultimately have nothing to show for it, a job well done.

DarkCurrent on January 18, 2016 at 5:12 PM

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