January 2024 | The upcoming presidential election in Taiwan determines the next 4 year-termed Taiwanese President, with strong competence to shape Taiwan’s foreign policy including vis-à-vis the PRC. After an eight-year rule by Tsai Ing-wen, a victory by candidate Lai Ching-te would extend the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) rule to 12 years, consolidating a more independent policy towards the PRC and representing a 1st time 12 year ruling period – underpinned by demographic and societal trends in Taiwan – by the same party since Lee Teng-Hui of the Kuomintang (KMT) between 1988-2000s, with 1996 marking the start of Taiwan’s direct presidential elections.
This 2024 election is taking place against the backdrop of heightened international political attention for the “Taiwan issue” in recent years. Beijing has been upping its urgency for the “historic task” to achieve “reunification” of Taiwan with the Chinese mainland since CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping in 2022 in his report to the 20th Party Congress after a 20-year hiatus re-stated again that China preserves its right “to use force as last resort” to solve the “Taiwan issue”.
Likewise, statements and positions on the “Taiwan issue” by Western politics and governments, including especially Japan, have been intensifying since 2017, when then-President Trump released the new US National Security Strategy that, unlike the 2015 version, explicitly mentioned Taiwan with regards to urgency, frequency and tone, showcasing that the “Taiwan issue” is seen as a crucial fault line in current geopolitics shaped by the US-China strategic competition.
Stability and the concrete developments of Cross-Strait relations, including both more tactical tit-for-tat actions as well as more politically structural escalations such as a sea blockade, are a crucial topic for the political risk monitoring and risk management of global business that operates in China and Taiwan, exports to China or has direct or indirect supply chains in China and/or Taiwan.
Check out our CMG Primer Understanding process and influencing factors of Taiwan's 2024 presidential election