On the evening of January 11, Taiwan’s presidential election came to an end. Incumbent Tsai Ing-wen collected 8.17 million votes, a record in Taiwan’s history, resulting in her being re-elected as president. The United States, Britain, and the EU all congratulated her on her victory. The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) intervention in Taiwan had failed. Against the backdrop of the anti-extradition protests in Hong Kong, this election is viewed as a battle for the defense of democracy and freedom in Taiwan.
The result of this election has an impact not just in Taiwan, but on the world at large. Let’s take a look at the impact it has on the region.
1. Taiwan rejected one country, two systems
While speaking at an international press conference on the evening of her landslide victory, Tsai Ing-wen said that the election results send a strong message to the Chinese Communist Party. When Taiwan’s sovereignty and democracy are threatened by the CCP, the people of Taiwan will stand together, and with a clear and loud voice, and with perseverance and determination, do everything they can to maintain their freedom.
Since June of last year, Hong Kong’s protests have raised alarms in Taiwan over Chin’s one country, two systems policy, particularly among the younger generation. It was because of these concerns that this generation turned out in droves to cast their votes. Tsai Ing-wen’s approval rating was surprisingly reversed over the course of the last year, primarily due to her taking a tough stance toward the CCP.
As the people of Taiwan watched the CCP try to exert more power and influence in Hong Kong, they became ever-more-determined not to let the same thing happen in their own country. This had the positive effect of getting both young and old out to vote, including even those living abroad. The turnout rate for this election was as high as 74 percent, and tens of thousands of Taiwanese living abroad returned home to cast their votes.
Mr. Lin, who returned to Taiwan from the United States with his family, said: “Our Head of State should listen to us and should not listen to mainland China.” His voice echoes that of the majority of Taiwanese citizens, as the results of the election clearly demonstrate.
If the CCP had any doubt about how deeply the people of Taiwan value their freedom, they have no doubt now. The people have made it very clear where they stand.
2. Democracy fostered activism
The younger generation turned out in large numbers to make their voices heard. An estimated 6.67 million people between the ages of 20 and 39 years of age turned out to vote in this critical election. Their support of Tsai Ing-wen far exceeded that of her challenger Han Kuo-yu, highlighting the directional thinking of the future. In an interview with The Epoch Times, one Taiwanese student said: “We are sending a very direct and powerful voice to the world that we want to protect this fortress of democracy.”
The voice of the Taiwanese youth echoed that of the protesters in Hong Kong. Their resistance to totalitarianism is a direct result of the actions of the CCP itself, and Taiwan’s choice of the president shows that the CCP’s deceit and threats failed completely. The CCP is going to face, in the long term, millions of people in the new generation, both in Hong Kong and Taiwan, who will not compromise their freedom or bend to the will of the tyrant administration of the CCP.
This unified voice of the younger generation includes people from all walks of life — workers, college students, and high school students. Going forward, their resistance will lead to an internal erosion of confidence within the CCP officialdom, as they find it increasingly difficult to face the reality of the loss of influence and control that is sure to occur. The resistance of Hong Kong and Taiwan against communism continues to gain successors and supporters, while both internally and externally the CCP seems to be facing a downturn that has no chance of reversal.
3. Beijing’s growing influence sparked fears
The CCP spent a great deal of time, money, and effort to intervene in this presidential election. According to Wang Liqiang, a former CCP special agent who defected to Australia, the CCP’s methods for interfering abroad include funding the Internet and media, giving money to temples and schools, and providing overseas political donations, namely for “sea, land, air” and “three forces that are, the navy, army and air force.” Fake news was circulated on the Internet to discredit Tsai Ing-wen and the Democratic Progressive Party (Taiwan’s conservative party), as well as certain people in the media and political figures.
The CCP’s infiltration into Taiwan is no secret, but the scope and extent of that influence became increasingly apparent in recent years. The CCP directly intervened in the presidential election, with the goal of subverting freedom and democracy. After Wang Liqiang revealed what he knew about the spying and operating methods of the CCP, the executive director of China Innovation Investment and his wife were detained in Taiwan for being Chinese intelligence officers. Intelligence units quickly began an investigation to establish the couple’s involvement in espionage, and the world is watching this story unfold with great interest.
On December 31 last year, the Taiwan Legislative Yuan passed the “Anti-Infiltration Law” in an effort to combat the perceived threats from China, a move that was strongly opposed by the CCP, but which is clearly necessary.
4. The election hardened anti-Beijing sentiment
Randall G. Shriver, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asia-Pacific Security, congratulated Tsai Ing-wen for her success in the election. He stated that many people in China are now wondering why they cannot go to the polls and why they cannot choose their own leaders. With every successful election in Taiwan, mainlanders will ask themselves why they can’t enjoy the same privileges and rights as Taiwan. The minds of mainlanders have been stirred, as they’ve witnessed what freedom could look like in their own country.
The Taiwan presidential election attracted the attention of not just the region, but of the world. The world watched as, on January 11, nearly 20 million Taiwanese from around the country went to the polling stations and queued up in an orderly fashion. After the election results were released, the winners were gracious and humble, indicating they were aware that they must live up to the expectations of the voters. Those who lost the election congratulated their opponents and faced them openly.
It’s all about the people’s choice. As Tsai Ing-wen said after the election, what the Taiwanese people are most proud of has never been the victory of a particular party. This vote was part of their effort to stand up for what they believe in and to defend their freedom.
Making their voices heard as they stand up for their freedom is also something the people of Hong Kong are looking forward to in their next dual election, something the people of mainland China do not have the privilege of doing under the rule of the CCP.
5. Totalitarianism will fail in the end
During her press conference, Tsai Ing-wen urged the Beijing authorities to accept the choice of the people of Taiwan, and put forth a motto for the handling of the cross-straits relations of “Peace, Reciprocity, Democracy, Dialogue.”
The result of the 2020 Taiwan presidential election is a victory for freedom against the CCP’s tyranny, and also sends a strong signal to the world. On the evening of the election, Tsai Ing-wen delivered a victory speech to the people in front of the DPP’s election headquarters, stating: “We want to thank the people of Taiwan for their persistence. We will protect this fortress of freedom.”
She went on to say: “The people of Taiwan once again demonstrated their dignity and confidence in front of the world. Our brave and confident decision will be the focus of tomorrow’s major media around the world. Each of us is the protagonist.”
This election is part of a decisive battle on whether to join the CCP or reject the CCP. It is about sovereignty, freedom and the survival of the rights of the individual. The people of Taiwan have chosen their path, and their answer has inspired the oppressed people of Hong Kong and mainland China. Just as significantly, Taiwan is helping raise international awareness on the importance of resisting totalitarianism, thus strengthening the global fight against it. This fight is a crucial international issue as we head into 2020.
Translated by Chua BC and edited by T. Denning