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  • Taiwan is gearing up for its next presidential election on January 13th.

    臺灣正在為 1 月 13 日的下屆總統選舉做準備。

  • The stakes in this vote are higher than ever before as ties grow increasingly strained between the self-ruled island and mainland China.


  • Whoever is elected Taiwan's president will also signal where US-China relations are headed.


  • [Speaking in Chinese] Currently, Taiwan is facing the critical choice between the two paths and prospects of peace and war, prosperity and decline.


  • But how have relations soured to this extent?


  • In 1992, a political consensus was reached by Beijing and Taiwan, which at the time was ruled by the Kuomintang.

    1992 年,北京與當時由國民黨統治的臺灣達成了政治共識。

  • Under what is now known as the '92 consensus, both parties have agreed there is only one China, but they could disagree over what that means.


  • It was assumed the mainland would define it as the People's Republic of China and Taiwan would define it as the Republic of China.


  • To Beijing, the '92 Consensus has been the basis of cross-strait ties.


  • But Taiwan's economy suffered from a global economic downturn during the KMT's eight years in power and many voters felt the close ties with Beijing benefited businesses more than ordinary people.


  • Here's how one expert explained it at the time.


  • The current government [KMT] has maintained a rapprochement policy with China.


  • But many voters in Taiwan consider that rapprochement has not been able to bring prosperity to Taiwan's economy, and more dignity and participation in international community.


  • That year, the independence leading Democratic Progressive Party swept into power with current President Tsai Ing-wen in the top job.


  • [Speaking in Chinese] We need every single vote for change.

    [中文] 改變台灣,一票都不能少。

  • Tomorrow, we will return the power to the people. Tomorrow, we will win Taiwan back.


  • Tomorrow, we will use our ballots to bring the presidential office back to the people of Taiwan.


  • Tsai's election as the island's top leader brought cross-strait to a impasse.


  • She refused to accept the '92 Consensus while Beijing regarded her as a "separatist."


  • Tensions only intensified when Tsai won a second term in office with a record 8 million votes in 2020.

    當蔡英文在 2020 年以創紀錄的 800 萬張選票贏得第二個任期時,緊張局勢進一步加劇。

  • Her campaign focused on safeguarding the island's democracy and raising fears that Taiwan would be controlled by Beijing.


  • She used Hong Kong's 2019 anti-government protests to reject any notion of a "one-country, two-systems" policy for reunification.

    她利用香港 2019 年的反政府抗議活動來拒絕任何「一國兩制」統一政策的觀念。

  • [Speaking in Chinese] I want to ask you all here, does anyone want war? Nobody wants war. Do we want peace? Everyone wants peace.

    [中文] 我要問現場我們所有的好朋友,有人要戰爭嗎? 沒有人要戰爭。 我們是不是要和平? 大家都要和平。

  • Look at Hong Kong and think of Taiwan. We don't want Hong Kong-style peace.


  • We want dignified peace. Everyone, am I right?


  • Tsai has reached her two-term limit, so she cannot run in this coming election.


  • Experts say cross-strait relations remain a major concern to Taiwanese voters.


  • [Speaking in Chinese] The main candidates with different views on the future of cross-strait relations matter to the presidential election.


  • Some of them are in favor of maintaining a more friendly attitude with the Chinese mainland,


  • and some of them are in favor of maintaining Taiwan's sovereignty and not accepting the 1992 Consensus with the Chinese mainland.


  • So as to which candidate is elected, whether it is possible for cross-strait relations to cause further tension or easing... those are everyone's concern.


  • Beijing sees Taiwan as part of China to be reunited by force if necessary.


  • Most countries including the US do not recognize Taiwan as an independent state, but Washington is opposed to any attempt to take the self-ruled island by force, and is committed to arming Taiwan.


  • In October poll by the Taiwanese government's Mainland Affairs Council showed only about 7% of Taiwan's people supported reunification.


  • In comparison, 25% were in favor of independence.


  • But support for either Taiwanese unification or independence had both dropped compared with the same period ahead of the previous election.


  • It showed the vast majority of Taiwanese people wanted neither option.


  • They simply wanted to maintain Taiwan's status the way it is. Not formally independent and not unified with mainland China.

    他們只是想維持台灣的現狀。 不正式獨立,也不與中國大陸統一。

  • The frontrunner in this election is DPP candidate and current vice-president William Lai Ching-te.


  • But he only has about 30% support among voters, mainly the party's long-time supporters, according to opinion polls.


  • Like Tsai, his campaign has focused on raising fears of a takeover by Beijing.


  • [Speaking in Chinese] China's desire to "swallow up" Taiwan was the country's national policy as they strive for world hegemony,


  • it's not because of which political party or related to any candidate and their policies.


  • But it's not clear if using the same strategy this time will help Lai win.


  • He has faced difficulties winning over middle of the road voters partly because of fears The DPP's path of confrontation with Beijing could lead Taiwan towards war with mainland China.


  • Beijing has repeatedly criticized Lai as pro-independence, along with his vice-presidential running mate, Xiao Bi-khim, Taiwan's former de facto ambassador to the United States.


  • [Speaking in Chinese] Such a dangerous "separatist duo" from the Democratic Progressive Party will only poison the interests and well-being of the people on the island,


  • poison cross-strait peace and stability, and poison the future and destiny of Taiwan.


  • Their biggest opponent is the KMT's Hou Yu-ih, who seeks to reduce tensions and restore dialogue with Beijing while also protecting Taiwan's self-rule and democracy.


  • The KMT has been trying to narrow the gap between Hou and the DPP's Lai, even calling on KMT supporters living on the mainland to return to the island for the vote, which must be cast in person.


  • This year, a candidate from a relatively new party, the Taiwan People's Party has also emerged as a contender.


  • Ko Wen-je, a former mayor of Taipei, is mostly favored by young Taiwanese who do not like either the DPP or KMT, but he is trailing behind his two opponents.


  • Ko has shown a more diplomatic inclination in approaching Taiwan's relationships with both mainland China and the US.


  • [Speaking in Chinese] I hope Taiwan can be a bridge between China and the United States, not a pawn in the confrontation between China and the United States.


  • The Taiwan issue has long been a major flashpoint of Beijing's relations with Washington.


  • The US is bound by law to provide Taiwan with defense of military equipment.


  • But more than just a military obligation, Taiwan in recent years has also been seen by the US as an important partner to counter mainland China's growing assertiveness and influence in the region.


  • "As a leading democracy and a technological powerhouse, Taiwan is a key US partner in the Indo-Pacifi. Though the United States does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, we have a robust unofficial relationship."


  • The US and China have long fought for technological dominance and clashed over their global trade involving reciprocal tariffs.


  • Both Washington and Beijing need a reliable supply of semiconductors and industry-led globally by Taiwan.


  • Semiconductors are used in most smartphones, computers, cars, F-35 fighter jets, and even NASA's Perseverance Rover that landed on Mars.

    大多數智慧型手機、電腦、汽車、F-35 戰鬥機,甚至美國太空總署登陸火星的毅力號火星車都使用了半導體。

  • The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company recorded a market share of more than 50% in the whole global semiconductor foundry market in 2023.


  • If China gains more influence over Taiwan, the US claims that it would pose a threat to global supply chains and jeopardize American and global technology security.


  • Former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi even stopped by TSMC during her controversial 2022 visit to Taiwan.

    美國前眾議院議長南西·裴洛西甚至在頗受爭議的 2022 年訪問台灣期間順便拜訪了台積電。

  • That visit, the first by such a high-ranking US politician in many years, angered Beijing, which saw it as a challenge to Chinese sovereignty.


  • Shortly after, Chinese military aircraft started crossing the Taiwan Strait's median line, an unofficial barrier between the mainland and Taiwan.


  • [Speaking in Chinese] Once a war breaks out in the Taiwan Strait over "Taiwan independence" or the intervention of external forces,


  • Taiwan will become a battlefield, and the Taiwanese people will be caught in crossfire and turned into cannon fodder.


  • So of course the world is concerned, especially now that there are wars going on globally.


  • So a threat from China, it's not just a threat to Taiwan, it's probably a threat to democratic camps around the world.


  • Ahead of the vote, President Tsai has reversed her party's previous frequent warnings about the prospect of war and sought to play down such fears.


  • Opinion polls show the DPP is struggling to increase support from voters and it could be a neck-and-neck race.


  • Many voters are now worried there could be a war if tensions escalate out of control.


  • I think the Chinese leadership at this juncture is overwhelmed by its internal challenges.


  • And my thought is that perhaps this is not a time for them to consider a major invasion of Taiwan.


  • Regardless of who succeeds Tsai as Taiwan's next leader, after the January 13th poll, ties between the island, mainland China and the United States will have important consequences for the region and the world.

    無論誰接替蔡英文成為台灣下一任領導人,1 月 13 日投票後,台灣、中國大陸和美國之間的關係都將對區域和世界產生重要影響。

Taiwan is gearing up for its next presidential election on January 13th.

臺灣正在為 1 月 13 日的下屆總統選舉做準備。

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