Tomorrow, Friday, May 20, Tsai Ing-wen will officially become Taiwan’s President. Tsai, a former cabinet official and university professor, will also become the first female leader of Taiwan and in the “Chinese” world. Having won the election back in January, Tsai has had to endure a daunting four months. The main reason is simple – China.
Because Tsai hails from the DPP, the pro-Taiwan and more localized party which maintains that Taiwan is its own country, and not the KMT, which came from China and was the traditional party in power who officially believes that Taiwan is part of the Republic of China and is pro-China. Also, because Tsai has never promised to affirm the “1992 Consensus,” which the KMT and China’s CCP have stressed previously. She shouldn’t, because while the KMT said that the “Consensus” is an agreement to disagree in the form of differing interpretations about whether Taiwan is part of China, the CCP believes that it simply means Taiwan belongs to China (for more on this fake “consensus,” see here).
As Tsai has not caved in and promised to follow the “1992 Consensus,” Beijing has put heavy pressure on her by issuing veiled threats, making Kenya and Malaysia deport Taiwanese criminals arrested there to China instead of Taiwan, and even running large military exercise this week. But Tsai will have other big problems to face other than China acting like a bully and baby. Taiwan’s economy has serious problems including low salaries, low growth and brain drain; and she will have to find new ways to resuscitate it.
While I have a few serious criticisms about Taiwan and its society, I believe in its destiny as a country and a democracy and I believe it has the right to determine its own fate and not be dictated to by another country claiming it for itself. I hope that President Tsai will be a big improvement from outgoing President Ma and that she will not be intimidated by China and can also lead Taiwan into a new and more positive era.