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Taiwan sails away from China
Political scientist Vasiliy Kashin analyzes the arrival of the opposition to power in Taiwan, which leads to hard-to-predict results
The victory of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the presidential and parliamentary elections in Taiwan on January 16 went almost unnoticed in Russia. The results of these elections can seriously affect China’s foreign policy, US-China relations and the whole world policy.
In addition, Chen did not rely on a parliamentary majority during his entire presidency. Many of his undertakings failed, relations with Beijing deteriorated, and economic growth slowed. In 2008, DPP lost power, and Chen himself immediately after leaving the presidency was under investigation for alleged corruption and was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Now, after eight years of the Kuomintang reign, the DPP is returning in triumph. Cai Inven not only won a solid majority in the 56,1% election. Her party has a strong parliamentary majority - 68 of 113 seats in the Legislative Yuan.
The political struggle in the Taiwan elections is a reflection of the conflict of two identities - the Chinese and Taiwanese - among the island's population. The Kuomintang-the ruling party of the Republic of China, which retreated to Taiwan in 1949 after the lost war-initially had as its base aliens from the mainland: officials, soldiers, and intellectuals who fled from communism. For the early period of postwar history of Taiwan was characterized by a confrontation of the newcomers and "indigenous" Taiwanese. Subsequently, the Kuomintang gradually "mystified", and the severity of the contradictions decreased. Nevertheless, the KMT is the only Taiwanese political party that remains connected with the common Chinese political tradition.
A longtime opponent in the civil war is now the most convenient partner for the Chinese Communists. The period of the Kuomintang in
The DPP, which emerged in 1986, initially denied any connection with general Chinese policy, emphasizing the construction of a separate, actually Taiwanese political nation. The success of the DPP contributed to the objective circumstances. The island from the end of the XIX century. almost continuously was outside the scope of political control of the mainland. From 1895 to 1945, it was ruled by the Japanese, from 1949, it remains outside the scope of control of the PRC. During this time, many differences have accumulated among residents of the Straits of the Taiwan Strait.
During the period of the DPP, the construction of the “Taiwan Identity” progressed significantly. Studying Taiwanese (and not all-Chinese) history, supporting local traditions, focusing on repressions that people from the mainland carried out in relation to the local population in 1940 – 1970-ies make it possible to accelerate this process.
At first glance, Beijing is losing the opportunities for the progress of its “peaceful reunification” project, but may return to it in the next electoral cycle. However, the growing results of the DPP are based on a change of generations on the island, which leads to hardly predictable results. A survey published at the beginning of the year by the Zhengzhi University showed that more than 60,6% of the island’s population identified themselves as “Taiwanese” (in 1992, when similar surveys began to be conducted, there were only 17,6%). Only 3,5% identified themselves as "Chinese", and 32,5% stated that they combine Chinese and Taiwanese identities.
Changes in identity issues already pose a threat to PRC policy, which is based on the use of economic levers and building special relations with a few key figures in politics and business with weak relations with civil society. In 2014, members of the youth Sunflower Movement, seizing the parliament building, thwarted the ratification of an important service trade agreement between the banks of the Taiwan Strait. From their point of view, the agreement led to excessive rapprochement with the mainland. In the 2016 elections, the New Force party, organized by former leaders of the movement, ranked third.
These changes force us to take a fresh look at the prospects of the current Chinese strategy towards Taiwan. It does not work, because the lack of "soft power" can not be compensated by any economic influence. Many of these problems are familiar to us on the example of Russian policy in the CIS. Today, China may still have reserves to improve strategies for influencing Taiwan's policies.
But quite likely new problems with the strengthening of Chinese influence on the island can lead to a complete revision of the PRC's line of conduct and return to a strategy of hard pressure on the island after the model of the end
Material published in the newspaper "Vedomosti" 21 January 2016 g