January 10, 2024

CNAS Responds: Taiwan’s 2024 Presidential Election

On Saturday, January 13th, Taiwan will hold its 2024 presidential election. In anticipation of the event, Jacob Stokes, CNAS Senior Fellow for the Indo-Pacific Security Program, provides insights and analysis on the current dynamics of the electoral race, potential results, and broader ramifications for security in the region.

All quotes may be used with attribution. To arrange an interview, email Alexa Whaley at [email protected].

Jacob Stokes, Senior Fellow, Indo-Pacific Security Program:

Taiwan’s presidential election this weekend will mark a critical juncture for the self-governing island as its citizens choose whether to vote in a new leader from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the opposition Kuomintang (KMT), or the third Taiwan People’s Party (TPP). Whatever the results, Taiwan’s vibrant democracy will be on full display.

China has sought to influence the contest using political, economic, and military pressure. Beijing relies more on sticks than carrots because it lacks the types of incentives that people in Taiwan find attractive. China’s economic prospects are dimming, and it has frequently leveraged economic ties as coercive tools, so deeper cross-Strait economic integration no longer has the pull it previously did. Moreover, Beijing’s decision to destroy even partial democratic institutions in Hong Kong obliterated the possibility that people in Taiwan would accept China’s proposed “one country, two systems model” for themselves.

Nearly any conceivable cross-Strait crisis following Taiwan’s election or during the transition period will be one China chooses to create. Beijing should instead take this opportunity to revise its destabilizing and self-defeating Taiwan policy—though China is unlikely to do so under Xi Jinping.

For its part, U.S. policy toward cross-Strait issues will—and should—stay the same no matter which candidate wins Taiwan’s election. Among other tenets, Washington opposes any unilateral change to the status quo from either side, particularly by coercion or force. The United States will continue to partner with Taiwan to ensure the island has the means to defend itself, while building a regional and global coalition of states to support peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

To arrange an interview with Jacob Stokes, email Alexa Whaley at [email protected].

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