China Failed to Sway Taiwan’s Election. What Happens Now?
China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has tied his country’s great power status to a singular promise: unifying the motherland with Taiwan, which the Chinese Communist Party sees as sacred, lost territory. A few weeks ago, Mr. Xi called this a “historical inevitability.”
But Taiwan’s election on Saturday, handing the presidency to a party that promotes the island’s separate identity for the third time in a row, confirmed that this boisterous democracy has moved even further away from China and its dream of unification.
After a campaign of festival-like rallies, where huge crowds shouted, danced and waved matching flags, Taiwan’s voters ignored China’s warnings that a vote for the Democratic Progressive Party was a vote for war. They made that choice anyway.
Lai Ching-te, a former doctor and the current vice president, who Beijing sees as a staunch separatist, will be Taiwan’s next leader. It’s an act of self-governed defiance that proved what many already knew: Beijing’s arm-twisting of Taiwan — economically and with military harassment at sea and in the air — has only strengthened the island’s desire to protect its de facto independence and move beyond China’s giant shadow.