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Ekaterina Blinova
Ekaterina Blinova
Ekaterina Blinova is a freelance journalist and has been a Sputnik contributor since 2014. She has a specialist's degree in history and specialises in US, European, Middle Eastern and Asian politics, international relations, sociology and high tech.

Taiwanese parties joining ranks to unseat pro-US cabinet, mend ties with Beijing

Taipei, Taiwan skyline from Elephant Mountain.

Joe Biden’s Indo-Pacific strategy envisaging Taiwan’s militarization over the alleged China threat may fall apart at the seams as Taiwanese political forces unite to outperform the pro-US ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the January 2024 elections.

Washington’s proxy war in Ukraine has resulted in delayed military deliveries to Taiwan: according to the Cato Institute, the US arms sale backlog to Taiwan amounts to $19.17 billion. Earlier this month, the American libertarian think tank presented a detailed breakdown of the backlog, shedding light on the scope of the island’s militarization.

The US has recently speeded up arming the island of Taiwan, citing the potential threat of a Chinese “invasion,” something that Beijing has repeatedly ruled out. In the eyes of China, the island is an inalienable part of the People’s Republic and its reunification with the mainland should come through peaceful means.

The list of weapons mentioned by Cato reportedly includes 66 F-16 fighter jets; 108 M1A2 Abrams tanks; M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzers; 100 Harpoon coastal defense systems; 400 Harpoon missiles; MQ-9B unmanned aircraft; AN/SLQ-32 electronic warfare system for the Keelung-class destroyer; High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS); Volcano anti-tank mining system; and the Field Information Communications System, to name but a few, as well as all sorts of ammo and maintenance support for US weapons already delivered to Taiwan.

Speaking to the BBC on November 6, Wang Ting-yu, a ruling party legislator with close ties to Taiwan’s leader Tsai Ing-wen, placed emphasis on the urgent need to improve the island’s military capacity in the face of the “China threat.” Wang told the media that Taipei is fixing to send two battalions of Taiwanese ground troops to the US for training – marking the first time since the 1970s, when Washington established diplomatic ties with Beijing and halted formal relations with Taiwan under the One China principle.

The aforementioned military buildup in the island has prompted Beijing’s deep concerns and is fraught with the risk of a potential clash in the Taiwan Strait between Chinese, US and Taiwanese forces, per international commentators.

Unlike Belligerent DPP, Kuomintang Seeks Normalization With China

However, this nightmare scenario can be avoided, especially if the DPP loses the 2024 election, scheduled for January 13, to the coalition of the Kuomintang (KMT) and the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP).

The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a DC-based think tank, suggested Monday that a potential KMT and TPP win may have a serious impact on US-China-Taiwan relations.

The crux of the matter is that the KMT seeks to improve ties with China and dissolve tensions which have grown between Beijing and Taipei since in 2016, when the DPP gained both the presidency and legislative majority on the island. Prior to that, between 2008 and 2016, Taiwan signed 23 treaties on cross-strait trade with China, opened direct flights, schools, and facilitated business exchanges under then-Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou from the KMT.

“Vote for the KMT, and there will be no battlefield across the Taiwan Strait,” Ma Ying-jeou told a crowd of his supporters earlier this year, in January. While Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen (DPP) met with US high-ranking officials in March-April (much to Beijing’s displeasure), Ma Ying-jeou embarked on a charm offensive in China, where he underscored that the people living on both parts of the Taiwanese strait are “Chinese.”

“Ma’s trip is also a subtle reminder that the KMT stands behind the One China policy and that the KMT will be the best party to bring about dialogue and peace with China,” Dr. Victor Teo, a political scientist who specializes in international relations of the Indo-Pacific, told Sputnikin early April. “In some ways, this visit by President Ma ironically does also help reduce tensions caused by Tsai’s visit.”

Why KMT + TPP is a Winning Combination

By building an alliance with the four-year-old TPP, the KMT is apparently seeking to boost its election odds to reach its goal of pacifying the island. TPP presents itself as a centrist political party and an alternative to both KMT and DPP. The party was established on August 6, 2019 by Ko Wen-je and has gained significant public support since then.

On October 30, the KMT and TPP agreed on the establishment of a coalition between the two parties; set a goal of maximizing their seats in the island’s parliament; and decided to pick the strongest candidates to bring the DPP’s eight-year “one party monopoly” to naught.

What’s more, the two parties announced a consensus on restoring stability and peace across the Taiwan Strait. The leaders of the KMT and TPP stated that the future cross-strait dialogue and relations, which have been suspended under incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen, should be restored and based upon the island’s main laws and the 1992 Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area.

So what are the KMT-TPP’s election odds? Last week’s polls indicated that a twin ticket of TPP Chairman Ko Wen-je and KMT presidential candidate Hou Yu-ih outperformed DPP hopeful Lai Ching-te and his pick, according to City Development Communication Association.

Per the survey, in a four-way race, Lai got 30.1%, followed by Ko at 24.5%, Hou at 17.3%, and another Taiwanese presidential candidate Terry Gou, the Foxconn Founder, at 11.3%. In a three-way race (without Gou), Lai received 32.2%; Ko got 30.4%; Hou won 22.6%, while 14.8% respondents remained undecided.

At the same time, a Ko-Hou ticket received 49.8% of potential votes, while Lai’s ticket with Representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim got only 38%.

Should Team Biden Change Approach to Taiwan Issue?

Quincy Institute’s scholar David Zhong argues in his recent piece that Washington should take into account the possibility of a KMT-TPP coalition win in the forthcoming election. Per Zhong, this pacifist dynamics in Taiwan offers a “welcome respite” to Washington, which has been entangled in Ukraine affairs.

The emergence of the KMT-TPP bloc in Taiwan may help the US and China de-escalate and evade any conflicts for at least four years, per the scholar. However, if the DPP’s Lai Ching-te wins, one should expect that he would push ahead with further confrontational stance against Beijing, Zhong believes.

“In terms of the ongoing electoral campaign, prudence dictates that Washington should continue to adopt a stance of measured restraint and uphold a balanced posture,” the scholar underscored, adding that both outcomes – a continuation of the DPP government and a KMT-TPP win – pose their own pros and cons to Washington’s interests in the region.

Image credit: Vas

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Taiwan is the next place the Biden junta and US Uniparty warmongers have earmarked for another forever war. They’ve been practically salivating for months now.

    If that one doesn’t work out though, they still have Iran as a backup. The only certainty in 2024 is that nothing is going to stop their profits.

    War today
    War tomorrow
    War forever

    • Yep, the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Bankster-Complex will make sure of that.
      War is THEIR business.
      They even invest your son.

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