Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has promised to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait amid increased military pressure from China. Tsai rejects that Taiwan is part of China and says that residents have shown the world “Taiwan’s determination to defend itself” during her tenure. She also stated that war is not an option and neither party can unilaterally change the status quo in a non-peaceful manner. Taiwan gears up for its next presidential election in January 2024, viewed as a referendum on Tsai’s handling of Taiwan’s relations with China. Due to term limits, Tsai will not be standing for election.
The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has named Vice President William Lai as its presidential candidate, who has been more outspoken about independence than Tsai. He will be facing off against Hou Yu-ih, the candidate for Taiwan’s main opposition party Kuomintang (KMT), which traditionally favours warmer ties with China. Hou has opposed independence and “one country, two systems”, the arrangement under which Hong Kong is governed as part of China. Beijing has proposed the same arrangement for Taiwan, but the majority of Taiwanese people have rejected it.