DPP’s elec­tion loss wake-up call for a change of course

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - 8 Comment Editorial • Opinion -

Tai­wan leader Tsai Ing-wen an­nounced her res­ig­na­tion as the chair of the Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party late on Sat­ur­day to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the party’s de­feat in Tai­wan’s lo­cal elec­tions. In the elec­tions of may­ors and ma­jor civil ser­vants for 22 cities and coun­ties of the is­land — widely deemed to be a mid-term ex­am­i­na­tion of the Tsai ad­min­is­tra­tion since it took power in 2016, as well as a barom­e­ter for the is­land’s elec­tion in 2020 — the DPP won the mayor’s seats in six cities and coun­ties, the Kuom­intang 15, and a non­party can­di­date won one. The ques­tion is: Why did the Tsai ad­min­is­tra­tion lose peo­ple’s sup­port so fast?

The peo­ple are un­happy that the ad­min­is­tra­tion has not pulled Tai­wan’s econ­omy out of quasi-stag­na­tion. The is­land’s eco­nomic growth was 2.64 per­cent last year, markedly lower than the world av­er­age of 3.7 per­cent.

And some of its poli­cies have ig­nored the in­ter­ests of many groups, who were re­luc­tant to vote for the DPP’s can­di­dates in the lo­cal elec­tions this time.

More­over, de­spite Bei­jing’s co­op­er­a­tive stance, Tsai’s wheel­erdealer de­nial of the 1992 Con­sen­sus has forced the cross-Straits ties into a dead­lock. The Tsai ad­min­is­tra­tion’s se­ces­sion­ist stance has not only soured its cru­cial re­la­tions with the Chi­nese main­land, but also made it un­pop­u­lar with peo­ple on both sides of the Straits.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion’s beg­gar-thy-neigh­bor prac­tices have only stewed Tai­wan in its own juice. In the past two years, the num­ber of tourists from the Chi­nese main­land, the largest source of tourism rev­enue for Tai­wan, has slumped by 40 per­cent.

Tak­ing the ini­tia­tive to quit her job as chair of the DPP, Tsai, who had ex­hausted her means to beg for United States’ pro­tec­tion and en­dorse­ment, must have also re­al­ized it is not only her eco­nomic poli­cies, but also her sep­a­ratist stance that has lost her the sup­port of the peo­ple on the is­land.

Cross-Straits com­mu­ni­ca­tion and co­op­er­a­tion be­tween lo­cal gov­ern­ments are ex­pected to be strength­ened as a re­sult of the elec­tion, which will bring more op­por­tu­ni­ties and help deepen mu­tual un­der­stand­ing.

The elec­tion shows that the Tsai ad­min­is­tra­tion has be­trayed Tai­wan’s in­ter­ests and be­come a trou­ble­maker whose ac­tions have drifted farther away from the prac­ti­cal needs of the Tai­wan peo­ple and the his­tor­i­cal truth of the con­sen­sus there is only one China. This has led to the ad­min­is­tra­tion en­coun­ter­ing a cold shoul­der when­ever it has tried to wran­gle any kind of recog­ni­tion for a sep­a­rate sta­tus for the is­land within the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity.

The DPP’s heavy de­feat in the elec­tions should awaken the Tsai ad­min­is­tra­tion from its il­lu­sions.

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