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Taiwan so economically tied to China that unification is imminent? Or
has its new identity become so ingrained that de jure independence is
only a matter of time? These questions are playing out in Taiwanese
politics ahead of some crucial nationwide elections. A sudden move by
China (military attack) or Taiwan (declaration of independence)
remains unlikely, partly because of the crucial role the U.S. plays
in maintaining the status quo.
that Taiwan has elected a president from a party that has no desire for Chinese
unification, Beijing is stepping up pressure on the island, keeping it out of
international organizations and stealing away allies. President Tsai Ing-wen’s
New Southbound Policy aims to counter those moves by strengthening economic
ties and the country’s soft-power tools. Its failure could erode the pillars
upon which Taiwan’s independence is built.
election of Donald Trump in the United States brings with it a great deal of
uncertainty for China and its leaders. It could face the threat of a trade war,
and diplomatic challenges regarding Taiwan and the South China Sea. However, as
Washington takes a more isolationist stance, 2017 will also offer China the
opportunity to fill the vacuum.