Young reformist elected as new KMT party chair . . .
The Kuomintang (KMT), Taiwan’s main opposition party, has elected 48-year-old Johnny Chiang as its new chairperson. As the youngest permanent leader of the party, Chiang has promised a full party reform, including a re-think of its longstanding pro-China position. The KMT, which ruled China for 30 years (before the end of the civil war in 1949) and ruled Taiwan for more than 50 years, was defeated in January’s presidential election – in part due to its pro-unification stance. The loss represented the KMT’s fourth defeat in six presidential elections since 2000. Beijing has so far remained silent on the party’s leadership change.
Soul searching after election loss . . .
At the centre of Chiang’s reforms is the party’s stance on the ‘1992 Consensus.’ This consensus is a semi-official understanding reached between Beijing and Taipei in 1992 that both belong to “One China,” leaving some ambiguity for each side to interpret the meaning of “China.” Some KMT members blamed its poor election performance on senior officials holding on to the unification ideology, which is especially unpopular among young voters in Taiwan. Winning the party election with nearly 70 per cent of the vote, Chiang’s support underscores the urgent need for the traditionally pro-unification party to embrace Taiwan’s increasingly independent-minded electorate.
Meanwhile, US House passes TAIPEI Act . . .
On March 4, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act, aiming to support Taiwan’s international presence. It calls for Washington to cut aid to countries that switch diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to mainland China. The Act still needs to be passed by the U.S. Senate before being signed into law by President Donald Trump – an uncertainty given that Trump is trying to conclude a trade deal with Beijing. Chiang’s reforms and the TAIPEI Act could upend Beijing’s decades-old effort for increased influence in Taiwan.
- Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada: Student Election Watch Taiwan 2020: Toward an uncertain future
- Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada: Taiwan election outcome heightens tensions with China
- The Japan Times: Taiwan's pro-China opposition Kuomintang stakes future on young new leader