The Diplomat: Taiwan’s 2020 Presidential Elections

Losing power in 2016 created a serious crisis for the KMT. At a time of troubles with its support base, party finances and personnel, the KMT faces an existential question with its party line. With its origins in Chinese nationalism, the KMT is at odds with the Taiwanese identity, which has dominated since the Lee Teng-hui period. To counter the rise to power of the DPP, the KMT chose to collaborate with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 2005.

The CCP had gradually increased its influence over the KMT, and by 2015 the KMT had become a political party that relied on Chinese influence to contest Taiwanese elections.

The political and economic structure of postwar Taiwan was “pro-U.S., anti-communism.” This structure was established and maintained with a heavy hand by Chiang Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo, and it became entrenched in the minds of Taiwanese.

Just as the KMT has moved away from this position, the DPP and Tsai have stepped in to inherit it.

The KMT still proclaims itself a “pro-U.S. party,” but its inclination toward Beijing at a time of U.S.-China tensions has made it difficult for it to escape the tag of a “pro-China party.” This in turn explains why Tsai Ing-wen, having recovered from last year’s drubbing, has emerged as ascendant in the 2020 election campaign.

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