China’s official reaction . . .
Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesperson for the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said that China’s policy toward Taiwan remains steady and consistent, advocating for peaceful “reunification.” Without naming either Tsai or the DPP, Ma also warned that China “resolutely opposes separatist attempts and acts for 'Taiwan independence' in any form.”
Impasse likely to continue . . .
While it’s not impossible that China could take action against Taiwan in the short term, China’s official statement suggests that it is unlikely to revise its policy towards Taiwan as long as the DPP government maintains the status quo and avoids an overt pursuit of independence. Beijing’s activities to date have included restrictions in communications between the PRC government and Tsai’s administration, persuade Taiwan’s remaining Pacific and Latin American diplomatic partners to de-recognize Taiwan, lure Taiwan tech businesses to China, and continue the August 2019 ban on the travel of individual mainland tourists to Taiwan. As cross-strait policies are also shaped by the tensions in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, Xi is concerned that any show of a willingness to compromise on one frontier may lead to an intensification of pressure in another.
DPP will not pursue independence . . .
In her victory speech, Tsai said the election outcome proves that the Taiwanese people cherish democracy and that the DPP administration will defend Taiwan’s sovereignty. While emphasizing democracy and sovereignty, Tsai avoided any discussion of all-out independence – a potentially explosive issue in cross-strait relations. The ongoing crisis in Hong Kong will likely continue to bolster anti-PRC sentiments in Taiwan, and this will complicate any attempts on Tsai’s part to promote a warming of relations with the PRC. Following the resounding defeat of its ostensibly pro-China candidate, Han Kuo-yu, watching how the KMT will rebuild itself after a second major defeat will be important for Taiwan’s democracy moving forward.