Taiwan and China: Long Shadows

China and Taiwan have both just joined the World Trade Organization. Relations between China and the United States are much improved in the context of the ‘war against terrorism’. Yet parliamentary elections in Taiwan are dominated by a political dispute half a century old. Will ‘one country, two systems’ or independence supporters triumph?

The World Today
Published 1 December 2001 Updated 26 October 2020 4 minute READ

Chris Hughes

Emeritus Professor of International Relations, London School of Economics

Taiwan’s voters go to the polls on December 1 to elect their Legislative Yuan (parliament) and county magistrates and mayors.

The result will be analysed with intense interest not only by politicians on the island, but also by policy-makers in Beijing and Washington whose main concern will be the implications for relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Although there is always an implicit challenge to China’s claim to Taiwan every time the population of the island exercises its sovereignty through the ballot box, these elections are especially significant. They are the first since the Kuomintang’s post-war monopoly on national power was broken by the election of the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Chen Shui-bian as Taiwan’s president in March last year.

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