Intense Competition in Taiwan's 2024 General Election: Presidential and Vice-Presidential Candidates to Face Off in Debate

Taiwan’s 2024 presidential election has entered the final stage of fierce competition. A televised debate for presidential candidates will be held on December 30, while a debate for vice-presidential candidates is scheduled to be held on January 1 next year.

Taiwan implemented direct universal presidential elections for the first time in 1996 and will hold its eighth direct presidential election on January 13 next year. Cross-Strait policy has always been an important issue in Taiwan’s general election. In particular, Beijing has continued to increase military and economic pressure on Taiwan in recent years. How to deal with relations with China is expected to become the focus of the debate again.

There are three groups of candidates in Taiwan’s general election, including “Lai Xiaopei” who is running on behalf of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, and Taiwan Vice President Lai Ching-te who is partnering with former representative to the United States Hsiao Meiqin.

 The largest opposition party, the Kuomintang, has sent a “Hou Kang Pei” campaign, led by Hou Youyi, mayor of Taiwan’s New Taipei City, and Zhao Shaokang, chairman of the China Broadcasting Corporation. Another opposition party, the People’s Party, formed the “Ke Ying Pei” between former Taipei Mayor Ko Wenzhe and the party’s legislator Wu Hsin-ying after the opposition integration negotiations broke down.

The DPP supports Taiwan’s maintenance of the status quo of de facto independence. Lai Xiaopei, who is currently expected to win the election, is expected to continue the governance line of current Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. The main focus is to continue to integrate with international standards and maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

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The Kuomintang, which once ruled China, fled to Taiwan after losing the civil war to the Chinese Communist Party in 1949. The representative of the Kuomintang, “Hou Kangpei”, adopts an opening-up strategy towards China, advocating a comprehensive restart of dialogue and exchanges, and restarting negotiations on trade in services and trade in goods. The recent talk of “opening up Chinese students to work in Taiwan” has attracted attention.

When Lai Ching-te registered for the election in November, he said that in this election, the whole world is watching how the Taiwanese people choose: whether to trust Taiwan and let Taiwan move forward on the path of democracy, or whether to rely on China, follow the “old one-China path” and walk into the embrace of China. .

Taiwan’s strategic location in the first island chain is one of the major disputes between the United States and China, and the results of Taiwan’s presidential election may have a major impact on U.S.-China relations.

In compliance with the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States has provided defensive weapons to Taiwan for many years, and has determined that any attempt to determine Taiwan’s future by non-peaceful means will be regarded as a threat to peace and stability in the Western Pacific region, and will be a serious threat to the United States. Concerned.

The People’s Republic of China has always claimed that Taiwan, which implements a democratic system, is its territory. At the US-China heads of state meeting in San Francisco in November, Chinese President Xi Jinping reportedly urged President Joe Biden to “stop arming Taiwan and support China’s peaceful reunification. China will eventually be reunified and will be reunified.”

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Biden has rarely asked Beijing to respect Taiwan’s electoral process. However, Taiwanese intelligence officials pointed out that Beijing has shown that it is willing to ease the regional situation, but it still continues to conduct “introduction and selection” of Taiwan cautiously. 

Wang Huning, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and deputy leader of the CPC Central Committee’s Leading Group for Taiwan Affairs, convened an interdepartmental meeting last week to step up interference in Taiwan’s elections.

Although “Lai Xiaopei” has been leading the polls, his lead is not large. According to the latest poll released by Taiwan’s “Beautiful Island Electronic News” on December 9, “Lai Xiaopei” has a support rate of 37.8%, “Hou Kangpei” ranks second with 32.6%, and “Ke Yingpei” has a support rate of 17.3%.

(This article refers to the Associated Press report)