A sharp rise in support for President Tsai . . .
As Taiwan heads to the polls in four months, public support for incumbent President Tsai Ing-Wen has bounced back due to her hardened stance on China. Under Tsai’s leadership, the Progressive Democratic Party (DPP), which has traditionally taken a pro-independence stance, has been cautious not to anger Beijing. However, as Taiwanese watch with concern the events in Hong Kong, Tsai has been garnering popularity due to her vocal support for Hong Kong demonstrators and her rejection of the ‘one country, two systems’ model. She has also ramped up Taiwan’s military power by purchasing 66 F-16 fighter jets from the U.S, a deal worth US$8 billion.
Beijing strikes back . . .
China has responded by going on the offensive. With the Solomon Islands, a Pacific nation of less than one million people off the coast of Papua New Guinea, currently deliberating whether or not to switch its exclusive diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China, Beijing has offered to create a development fund for the Solomons to replace a US$8.5-million fund backed by Taiwan. Since Tsai took office in 2016, four countries have switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China. International recognition is an important currency.
Canada boosts support for Taiwan . . .
On Monday, the Canadian government announced its support for a formal invitation for Taiwan to participate in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) general assembly taking place later this month in Montreal. In an official statement, Global Affairs Canada noted that “Canada supports Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organizations where there is a practical imperative and where Taiwan’s absence is detrimental to global interests.” For Tsai, Taiwan’s ability to participate in key international organizations and partnerships such as the ICAO or the CPTPP may be enough to overcome the loss of diplomatic allies, giving a boost to her re-election campaign.