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Taiwanese 2020 Election Results Reaffirm Independence From China

By: Martin Li

· Global Affairs

On Saturday, Taiwanese voters enthusiastically voted for incumbent president Tsai Ing-wen, who secured 57% of the vote and 8 million votes in the three-way election. The first runner up, Han Kuo-yu of the Kuomintang (KMT) who ran in a Trump-styled populist fashion, only secured 38.5%. In addition, Tsai’s party, the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), secured a majority in the legislature.

The main issue of the election was relations with Beijing, with the DPP calling for further independence and the KMT seeking unification. The voters picked the former, seeking to avoid the “one country, two systems” arrangement followed by Hong Kong. Tsai pandered to the heavily pro-independence Taiwanese youth, saying at a rally, “We value the lifestyle of democracy, and we defend our sovereignty.” 

In addition, there were clear signs of Chinese disinformation campaigns throughout the cycle, including the circulation of social media posts on election day warning of a pneumonia-like virus and encouraging people not to vote. These campaigns were extremely effective and helped the KMT secure victory in the 2018 local elections, but this year it seems to have backfired against Beijing as voter turnout reached 74%.
In the future, most analysts predict further pressure from China, with the state-run Global Times newspaper, which often reflects Beijing’s foreign policy goals, saying the election might require “expediting reunification.”

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