On the previous Saturday, January 13, Taiwan held its general elections for the year 2024, which included the election of its president during the election. Lai Ching-te, who is now serving as Vice President of Taiwan, was elected as the winner of the election. This victory ensures that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) would continue to hold the president of Taiwan for a third term.
What is more noteworthy, however, is that Lai and the DPP did not win a majority of the votes in this triumph; rather, they only won a plurality with 40.05 percent of the votes in a campaign that was contested by three other parties. As the candidate of the Kuomintang (KMT), the most significant ally of the Democratic People’s Party (DPP), Hou Yu-ih received 33.49 percent of the vote.
As the candidate and founder of the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), which was only created in 2019 and is competing in the presidential election for the first time, Ko Wen-je won an impressive 26.46 percent of the vote. In the twenty years that have passed since the election in the year 2000, this outcome marks the first occasion that the winning candidate has failed to gain a majority of the vote.
In the United States, it would be unheard of for there to be a situation in which three parties, each of which received at least one quarter of the vote, competed for the presidency. It is important to note that this result demonstrates that Taiwan’s electorate holds a variety of political beliefs and postures, which is in stark contrast to the narrative that is being spread by the ruling class in the United States.
The people of Taiwan are portrayed in this one-dimensional narrative as being uniform in their political opinions and uniformly anxious for the United States to rescue them from the “tyranny” of China and liberate them in a struggle for independence. This portrayal is a caricature of the Taiwanese people. The election of Lai was quickly portrayed by Western media as a defiant rebuke of China by Taiwan. This portrayal simplifies the complex and ever-changing political landscape of Taiwan’s population.
There is a wide range of political perspectives inside Taiwan.
To put it another way, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and its party program represent one extreme pole of this terrain on Taiwan’s relationship with China. They advocate for Taiwan to be established as a sovereign and independent state. Additionally, despite the fact that the KMT does not represent the other pole of unification with China, which is advocated by parties such as the socialist Labor Party, it still provides a difference to the DPP in that it typically supports stronger connections and collaboration with China.
As the TPP strives to position itself somewhere in the middle of the two major adversaries, it criticizes the DPP for being too unfriendly to China and dependent on foreign funding from the United States and Japan. On the other hand, it asserts that the strategy taken by the KMT is too accommodating to China. The rejection of the DPP and its extremist, separatist platform is the rebuff that became apparent in this election and is actually worthy of being mentioned.
The combined votes of the KMT and TPP amount to almost sixty percent, while the DPP received forty percent of the vote. Prior to the dissolution of their agreement in November 2023, the KMT and the TPP had even intended to run together on a combined ticket. However, this proposal was ultimately scrapped. For the time being, it is evident that there is a great yearning among the people of Taiwan for an alternative to the position taken by the DPP. However, it is not yet known whether they would attempt to pursue a united front once more in the future.
Another significant outcome of the general elections held in 2024 was that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was able to win the president, but it was unable to maintain its majority in Taiwan’s legislature since it lost 11 seats. This is a reflection of the fact that Taiwan’s internal discussion regarding its relations with China is always shifting and evolving.
When compared to the DPP’s 51 seats in the Legislative Yuan, the KMT will hold 52 seats, which will create an environment that is conducive to division, confrontation, and compromise. In this arena of the legislature, the TPP once again created headlines by gaining the remaining eight seats, and two of the remaining ten seats were awarded to independent lawmakers who have a stronger affinity to the KMT.
Because of this, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is in a powerful and unique position to influence the legislative process by endorsing or opposing legislation as a tiebreaker.
Despite the fact that the new TPP does not represent a Marxist vision for Taiwan, it is essential to emphasize that one of the factors that has contributed to its rapid growth is the support it has received from young people who are under the age of forty.
Not only do these voters identify with the TPP’s focus on addressing domestic issues such as economic inequality, affordable housing, and political corruption, but they are also drawn to the TPP because of its pragmatism and lack of ideological dogmatism, which are characteristics that the decades-old duopolistic rivalry between the KMT and the DPP embodies.
Therefore, the growing popularity of the TPP among young people is indicative of a new trend among young people in Taiwan who are sick of the political fighting over relations with China and instead want to concentrate on finding solutions to the tangible challenges that are affecting their day-to-day lives.
Data from a study that has been conducted for a long time and collected by the Election Study Center at National Chengchi University reveals the diverse and ever-changing perspectives of the people of Taiwan regarding the issue of establishing independence from China.
Although the mood for advancing toward independence did hit an all-time high in 2020 during the election of the current president of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Tsai Ing-wen, it has subsequently continued to decline by 17% to the most recent level in 2023 before reaching its lowest point.
At the same time that this decline occurred, the view that the current status quo of ties with China should be maintained eternally without seeking independence increased by more than 25 percent, becoming the opinion that was placed highest in 2023. The position of keeping the current status quo and making a decision on unification at a later time, which has otherwise been the opinion that has been held by the vast majority of Taiwanese citizens since 1994, came in second place.
The extreme viewpoint of gaining independence as soon as feasible has never topped 7.8% in this study that spans multiple decades, and the most recent data from 2023 places it at a low 4.5%. The position of keeping the status quo while making progress toward unification has garnered increased support over the years, reaching a high of 12.8% as recently as 2018.
This is in contrast to the position of unification with China as soon as feasible, which has historically always been the least popular opinion. The data presented here not only illustrates recent shifts in public opinion, but it also conveys the message that the pursuit of independence has never been the most widely held belief among the people of Taiwan.
Furthermore, the top two opinions for decades have primarily been for maintaining the status quo in the short term and being open to the possibility of unification in the future.
The narrative of Taiwan’s independence supports exclusively the ruling elite of the United States.
The ruling class in the United States and its military-industrial complex are the only ones who stand to benefit from the propaganda that is both inaccurate and warmongering about Taiwan’s people yearning for independence. Officials in the United States government, such as Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, only give the One China Policy a superficial level of support because, in the absence of this policy, the United States would not even be able to maintain diplomatic relations with China.
The United States of America, in the meantime, is making efforts to support Taiwan in order to serve its own interests as a pawn and a disruptive factor against China, which is its economic and political antagonist. In accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States has granted Taiwan more than fourteen billion dollars’ worth of military weapons since 1979.
On the other hand, in the previous year, Vice President Biden took an act of aggressiveness that had never been seen before by approving the use of eighty million dollars from taxpayers in the United States to directly support Taiwan’s military purchases through the foreign military finance program.
For the purpose of funding its military interests in Israel, Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Iraq, the United States has utilized the Foreign Military Fund (FMF). However, the FMF has never been utilized to provide support to any organization that is not even recognized as a sovereign nation by the United Nations.
The fact that this break is likely to be the beginning of the United States using the Foreign Military Fund (FMF) to pour taxpayer money into Taiwan demonstrates the United States’ true attitude toward Taiwan, despite the fact that it purports to have a different perspective on Taiwan.
It is vital that the working class in the United States reject the narrative of Taiwan’s path toward independence because it is in direct opposition to the reality of the diverse political perspectives held by the people of Taiwan and because it only serves to offer justification for the United States’ imperialist and its desire to go to war.