January 16, 2016

Taiwan’s Great Recalibration

By Patrick M. Cronin and Phoebe Benich

The winds of change that swept Taiwan on Saturday, Jan. 16, propelling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Dr. Tsai Ing-wen to a landslide victory — with nearly double the number of votes garnered by her ruling-party opponent, Eric Chu — marks a turning point in both domestic Taiwan politics and also great-power politics. Taiwan’s internal affairs are re-emerging as the small island’s main wellspring of change, rather than pressure from the two behemoths most linked to Taiwan’s destiny: China and the United States.

After several years of relative quiescence, the Taiwan question will be back on the high agenda. Popular sentiment emanating from Taiwan, a self-governing island of about 23 million, is likely to challenge mainland China’s expectation of advancing a more integrated “one China” policy. At the same time, U.S. ambiguity regarding the degree to which it would back a democratic Taiwan in crisis may well be tested anew.

Read the full op-ed in Foreign Policy.

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