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PacNet #41 – Tough times ahead if the DPP returns to power?

Taiwan’s presidential election is six months away, but it seems increasingly likely that the DPP’s Tsai Ing-wen will win. In a July 7 TVBS public opinion poll, Tsai leads the KMT’s Hung Hsiu-chu 54.2 percent to 24.6 percent. Among those closely watching the possible return of the DPP to power is China, which worries that if elected, Tsai will deny that the two sides of the Strait belong to one China and pursue de jure independence. This fear derives from Tsai’s history as the creator of the “two states theory” in the Lee Teng-hui era as well as her unwillingness to accept the existence of “one China” even as she pledges to maintain the status quo across the Taiwan Strait. Beijing could react harshly if Tsai is elected president of Taiwan, including by taking punitive economic measures, suspending communication and cooperation mechanisms, stealing away some of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, or even using military coercion or force.