The elections in Taiwan in January promise to be one of the region’s most consequential polls in recent decades. With Beijing increasingly vocal about using force to unify the island with China, voters face a choice between a president determined to resist Beijing and an opponent struggling to articulate an alternative. The polls on the self-governing island, which has a pivotal role in high-tech global value chains, are also taking place in the shadow of protests in Hong Kong and growing US–China tensions. In the lead-up, Beijing has been taking a leaf out of the Russian playbook by overtly and covertly influencing Taiwan’s local media and community groups.
The Lowy Institute hosted a panel discussion about Taiwan’s upcoming elections, the implications for cross-straits relations and Taiwan’s future.
Thomas J. Christensen is Professor of Public and International Affairs and Director of the China and the World Program at Columbia University and previously handled China and Taiwan in the US State Department.
Natasha Kassam is a Research Fellow in the Diplomacy and Public Opinion Program at the Lowy Institute and a former Australian diplomat in Beijing.
Dr Roger Lee Huang is a Lecturer at Macquarie University. His research includes the history of Taiwan–China relations and he has worked for Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party.
The event was chaired by Richard McGregor, Lowy Institute Senior Fellow and award-winning author of The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers and the recent Lowy Institute Paper Xi Jinping: The Backlash.