Why Taiwan’s split opposition concerns Beijing

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FILE PHOTO: A supporter of the main opposition party Kuomintang (KMT) waves a Taiwanese flag outside of the Central Election Commission in Taipei, Taiwan November 24, 2023. REUTERS/Ann Wang/File Photo

As the parliamentary election on January 13 draws near, Taiwan is experiencing a significant political development. Observers are taking note of a division within the islands’ opposition parties, which has raised concerns in Beijing about consequences for the political landscape. China, asserting its claim over Taiwan, closely monitors the situation as it fears that internal disagreements among opposition parties may unintentionally strengthen the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) which already holds a lead in opinion polls.

The Arguments

The internal rifts within Taiwan’s opposition parties have become a focus leading up to the election. This has implications for strait relations and the broader political scenario in the region. The breakdown of negotiations and subsequent criticism from China highlight the challenges faced by the opposition potentially influencing dynamics. The DPPs defiance against pressure and their accusations against opposition leaders introduce layers of complexity to the discourse shaping public perception as election day approaches.

The Facts

The failure of negotiations for a ticket between two major opposition parties who advocate closer ties with China has garnered measured responses from Beijing. Official statements express a desire for election results that prioritize peace and stability.

People on social media platforms are expressing a sense of despair regarding the internal divisions within the opposition. Many are disappointed and concerned about how this might impact the peace between Taiwan and mainland China.

The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) led by presidential candidate Lai Ching te remains steadfast in their resistance against pressure. They firmly reject the idea that Taiwan is part of China’s sovereignty and emphasize the importance of safeguarding Taiwan’s independence.

China’s Taiwan Affairs office continues to criticise Lai and his running mate Hsiao Bi khim, accusing them of distorting facts.

Following the breakdown of opposition talks, opinion polls provide a picture with some indicating prospects for Lai. The Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation and ETtoday present differing views on the landscape.

A split among opposition parties could actually improve Lai’s chances in Taiwan’s electoral system, making the election scenario more complex.

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