Taiwan holds a presidential election on Saturday that, like most of its elections, is defined by the “China question.” President Tsai Ing-wen sees the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as a threat to the nation’s sovereignty and democratic institutions, while her challenger, Kaohsiung mayor Han Kuo-yu, regularly offers grandiose promises about how embracing China will enrich Taiwan.
Tsai is favored to win reelection in large part due to her tough stance against Beijing, while her party is expected to keep its majority in the legislature. That same legislature, led by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), passed a law targeting Chinese infiltration on December 31. The past year has shown that Taiwan people — particularly the young — unequivocally object to Chinese encroachment, whether real or perceived. In many places — from Hong Kong to Australia to the Philippines — similar fears often manifest themselves as negative attitudes toward Chinese nationals. But in Taiwan, only about 100 miles east of China, citizens and government officials alike have made a concerted effort to make sure the nation’s antipathy does not extend to the Chinese people.