Liberty Times (LT): What do you think is the most important factor influencing these elections?
William Lai (賴清德): There are a few things influencing these elections. First, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) on Jan. 2 last year proposed a version of the “one country, two systems” framework intended for Taiwan. If there were people who in the past used the “1992 consensus” as a bridge for cross-strait communications, well, Xi personally tore that bridge down.
This made things all the more clear for Taiwanese — China simply wants to annex Taiwan. If it accomplishes this, the Republic of China would be annihilated. It shows that what the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has been saying all these years is a lie.
Second, there are the protests in Hong Kong against a proposed extradition bill [that have now become broader pro-democracy demonstrations]. Before this, there were some people who might have wanted to create a sort of muddled cross-strait space.
However, the Hong Kong protests have made things very clear. More than 2 million Hong Kongers have taken to the streets.
Taiwanese have seen the brave actions of Hong Kongers and are reminded of the decades when Taiwan strove for democracy. Nobody wants to relive those days.
Third, President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration has spoken about Taiwan’s sovereignty and its resolve to maintain it. These past three years, the government has made one achievement after another.
For example, pension reforms, without which the next generation would have been left facing a bankrupt pension system.
Similarly, had the government not enacted economic transformation and industrial upgrades, young people would have no opportunities and Taiwan would have no future.
When President Tsai first pushed these things, she faced challenges, but over time society will reflect on these policies and see them in a positive light.
Fourth, elections are about comparing the candidates. President Tsai’s main rival is Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) of the KMT. Comparing the two, the discrepancy is quite significant. Han is not a very good strategist. On top of that, as mayor he has not demonstrated any ability to govern. Running for president is stretching it quite a bit for him.
Read full interview here: