In January Ma Ying-jeou was re-elected as Taiwan's President following an election campaign that was dominated by debates on Taiwan’s relationship with mainland China. But his re-election was by no means assured as Taiwan also faces multiple domestic challenges in the coming years: an ageing population, the loss of talent to other countries, insufficient economic growth and the island's inability to attract international investors are among the main concerns.
However, many problems in Taiwan stem from its problematic relationship with neighbouring China. In his first term Ma Ying-cheou stabilised political cross-strait relations by improving trade relations and opening regular direct flights and shipping links. It is therefore expected that Ma Ying-cheou will further improve Taiwan's political and economic ties with China.
‘Taiwan after the election’, the latest edition of ‘China Analysis’, published by ECFR and Asia Centre explores the debates surrounding Taiwan’s relations with Beijing in the aftermath of the election:
- The most unexpected aspect of the recent election in Taiwan was the huge interest they generated in China. Especially debates on different Chinese social media networks suggest that Taiwanese democracy is seen as a positive development also in China. It may have given the Chinese a glimpse of what Chinese democracy could look like.
- The key strategic challenge remains Taiwan’s status and its relations with Beijing. A strategic 'window of opportunity' for cross-strait relations may be open between summer 2013 and the beginning of 2015. In the meantime Taipei and Beijing will continue 'deepening' the relationship before political negotiations come back onto the agenda.
- New dynamics after the election. The Taiwanese business community made an unprecedented and decisive intervention to support Ma Ying-jeou – and the 1992 consensus. The future of the Taiwanese economy may well lie across the strait.
The ‘China Analysis’ series, published by ECFR and Asia Centre, analyses the debates over China’s policies and direction within China’s expert community itself.
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The European Council on Foreign Relations does not take collective positions. ECFR publications only represent the views of its individual authors.