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Cross-Strait Relations in the Aftermath of Taiwan’s 2016 Elections


The 2016 elections in Taiwan resulted in a landslide victory for the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). It not only won the presidency but also an outright majority in the Legislative Yuan. It is now in full control of the government. An intriguing question is how the DPP government under President Tsai Ing-wen will deal with China which has warned Taiwan time and again that it would attack Taiwan if the latter declares de jure independence. The current study investigates the possible move that may be considered by the Tsai Ing-wen government, that will not irritate its own constituents on the island, and at the same time will not escalate the tension across the Taiwan Strait. Whether Tsai’s policy is tenable given the domestic and international constraints remains to be seen.

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  1. 1.

    For an account of the election results, see Hsieh [10].

  2. 2.

    Taiwan’s own military capability may deter a limited attack from China, but such deterrence is limited without the U.S. assistance.

  3. 3.

    After the 2016 U.S. presidential election, President-elect Donald Trump made several surprise moves (e.g., receiving a congratulatory phone call from Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, maintaining that U.S. is not bound by the one-China policy unless a deal is made with China on other things like trade, and so on) in violation of decades-long practices, casting doubt on the future U.S. policy toward the cross-Strait relations. However, given the U.S. interests in ensuring peace and stability in the region, it is hard to imagine that there will be a significant change in U.S. policy under the Trump administration.

  4. 4.

    The TEDS surveys are conducted by a consortium of political scientists from various academic institutions in Taiwan and sponsored by Taiwan’s National Science Council/Ministry of Science and Technology. Chi Huang has been the coordinator of these surveys since 2000. Huang was also the principal investigator of the 2016 survey.

  5. 5.

    A high percentage of those ages 60 and over do not respond to the question. It is hard to ascertain why. A possible explanation is that the atmosphere in the society changes rapidly, rendering positioning or repositioning difficult for those who are old.

  6. 6.

    Ko Wen-je is the current mayor of Taipei City. In the mayoral election of 2014, he ran as an independent but was supported by the pan-DPP camp.

  7. 7.

    See a news report in Chinese summarizing Ko’s position on the issue at–260,102.


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Correspondence to John Fuh-sheng Hsieh.

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Hsieh, Js. Cross-Strait Relations in the Aftermath of Taiwan’s 2016 Elections. J OF CHIN POLIT SCI 22, 1–15 (2017).

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  • Cross-Strait relations
  • Status quo
  • National Identity
  • ‘92 consensus
  • Median voter