An opposition leader prepares to take helm in Taipei, and Beijing is rattled – The Washington Post
KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan — Tsai Ing-wen is on the move. The presidential front-runner steps off a train, scoots up an escalator and cruises down the stairs to her motorcade, leaving a gaggle of guards in her wake. It’s days until Taiwan’s Jan. 16 election, the final stretch of a presidential race that she’s dominated from the start, a race that has left the ruling party scrambling — a race that she will probably win. On the campaign trail with Tsai Ing-wen.
Taiwan’s New Leader Faces a Weak Economy and China’s Might – The New York Times
A pragmatist elected to turn around Taiwan’s economy and balance nationalist fervor with the realities of maintaining ties with mainland China, she was rejected by voters just four years ago. But it was a career-long commitment to shrewdly shaping policy, rather than stoking the passions of her constituents, that helped Ms. Tsai win the election, experts said.
The social dimension
The outcome of the Taiwanese election was decided not only by public displeasure with the KMT, but also by changing demographics, which have made the average voter younger, more socially liberal and environmentally conscious, and decidedly Taiwanese. The explosion of youth culture, both in art and politics, which Hua Hsu writes about in the New Yorker, has been a clear sign of demographic changes on the island; the same is true of the relative decline in the voices of old, conservative Taiwanese, which grew up under martial law and were inculcated with a sense of loyalty to the party-state, as Elisa Tamburo writes about the the UoN blog. Washington Post’s Simon Dryer captures the macro picture — Taiwanese society is becoming increasingly liberal and multicultural, and straying away from China in terms of social and political disposition.
‘Progressive, tolerant and diverse’: How Taiwan is moving ever farther from China – The Washington Post
It was, by any stretch of the imagination, a stunning exercise in electoral democracy. Taiwan’s elections at the weekend have cemented this island’s standing as one of Asia’s most progressive and tolerant places. Not only did Tsai Ing-wen become Taiwan’s first female president, and the most powerful woman in the Chinese-speaking world, she is also the first woman to run an Asian country who is not the child of a political dynasty.
Twenty-Somethings in Taiwan and the Country’s First Female President – The New Yorker
Taiwan’s youth featured heavily during a visit Tsai made to the U.S. last June. I attended a Tsai rally in a ballroom at a Marriott in Brooklyn. A thousand supporters had come from as far away as Kentucky to hear Tsai lay out her new and improved vision of Taiwan’s future. The night’s festivities included a polished campaign video featuring Tsai and some hip, vaguely Brooklyn-esque Taiwanese woodworkers; many rounds of synchronized clapping and call-and-response; and a short set from Dwagie, the Taiwanese hip-hop pioneer who holds the distinction of being the only rapper to have collaborated with both Nas and the Dalai Lama. Clad in a black hoodie and a modest gold chain, he was there to remind us of the values of hard work and patriotism. “I know I can / I know there’s no problem / I just have to work hard,” he roared in Mandarin. The young bopped their heads; the old took pictures with their iPads.
Eroding the Iron Vote: Voices from Taiwan’s military villages
For Grandpa Wang, and the other remaining veterans of similar background, the KMT firstly evokes the experience of army, prolonged war and retreat to Taiwan. Like many of his comrades, once in Taiwan Wang settled in a military village, a juancun provided by the government, where he has spent about 70 years of his life. If it were not for people like him, enlisted men, who at a young age volunteered or were conscripted into the army, the Nationalists would not have existed, neither on the mainland or Taiwan. Feeling this is often forgotten in the high ranks of the Nationalist Party, grandpa Wang gets angry. Once he told Ma Ying-Jeou over the phone: “You have to remember that I am your senior and if it was not for us you would not be seated where you are”. Despite this, veterans like grandpa Wang remain faithful to their KMT history and experience, more than to current political leaders. On the voices not being felt this election — elder, conservative voters that previously propped up the KMT.
Chinese state-media response
Chinese state-media toed a careful, if not always unified line in response to Taiwan’s presidential election. A pugnacious statement in the Global Times 环球 calling on Taiwanese to abandon the “hallucinations” of independence received wide coverage in international media — though the piece was later removed for reasons not immediately clear. Other pieces in official media struck a balance between critiquing Taiwan’s democratic politics –which is portrayed as ‘mob rule’– and circumspect statements about deferring judgement on Taiwan’s new president.
After vote, China tells Taiwan to abandon independence hallucination | Reuters
Taiwan should abandon its “hallucinations” about pushing for independence, as any moves towards it would be a “poison”, Chinese state-run media said after a landslide victory for the island’s independence-leaning opposition. Original article in the Global Times 环球 was later removed, though it was quoted in a number of summary pieces, including this one on Sina 新浪.
国民党今天选代理主席 台媒：有人酝酿“防洪” — 观察者网
Taiwanese choose Tsai, not independence – Global Times
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Tsai Ing-wen won by a landslide in Taiwan’s “presidential” elections on Saturday, and the DPP she leads captured the majority of seats in the Legislative Yuan, with the Kuomintang once again becoming an opposition party. […] When “Taiwan’s path” was discussed in the “presidential” campaign this time around, the focus was not whether the island should seek “independence,” but how to boost the island’s economy, address social inequality, and guarantee the future of younger generations. […] The vote is not a gauge of cross-Straits relations. The DPP’s victory doesn’t mean the majority of Taiwanese support Taiwan independence. Tsai and her party are aware of this, so in her victory speech, she was evasive about the current issues between Taiwan and the mainland, only scrupulously stating that she will be engaged in a “consistent, predictable and sustainable cross-Straits relations.” Very different tone than Chinese-language commentary.
After democratization, Taiwanese society instead couldn’t turn out a politician. This is because the power of stupid populism is too large; this is because the form of narrow-minded populism follows blind reason. Real politicians cannot survive, even academic political commentators have difficulty speaking. For the media, survival is also difficult, so they put great stock in self-interested ratings, straying far away from fulfilling their duty to educate and lead society. Taiwanese media is singular phenomena: all year around without rest, political TV personalities stop at nothing to protect their interests while everyday smearing and cooking up imaginary charges [against adversaries].
We’re live from Taipei! Please don’t tell China’s censors – Committee to Protect Journalists
“The [Chinese] Cyberspace Administration has repeatedly ordered all online media outlets not to send reporters to Taiwan, but we did it anyway,” said one of the reporters who went to Taiwan and who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal. “It also prohibited us from doing live coverage on our website, so as a way to go around this censorship directive, we reported live by constantly updating the homepage of our mobile app.” […] “We posted some of our own election-related articles on our website but did not let them appear on the home page, so unless you look for them, you won’t see them,” the reporter said. “We did that because the Cyberspace Administration only allowed one piece of Taiwan election-related news each website could publish under its home page’s ‘important news’ (yaowen) section and it has to be a repost of an article from Xinhua, [the state news agency].”