Taiwan Strait

CrisisWatch Taiwan Strait

Unchanged Situation

Taiwan’s incumbent party won unprecedented third presidential term, as China downplayed result and refrained from significantly intensifying military activity around island.

Democratic Progress Party (DPP) won presidential election. Taiwan’s incumbent DPP secured historic third term in 13 Jan presidential poll, which elected William Lai as new president having emerged with 40% of vote; DPP, however, did not secure majority in Legislative Yuan as it won only 51 seats, while opposition Kuomintang won 52, likely reflecting voters’ frustration over domestic issues. In response, China same day dismissively stated election result “does not represent mainstream opinion in Taiwan” and reiterated commitment to complete national unification. Taiwan’s senior representative in U.S. 19 Jan described status quo as “neither unification, neither independence”; Chinese embassy 23 Jan responded that “independence forces are trying to stoke confrontation and antagonism”. 

China maintained military activity in Taiwan Strait. As of 29 Jan, Taiwan detected 318 Chinese military aircraft around island, of which 89 either crossed unofficial “median line” or were detected inside Taiwan’s air defence identification zone – approximately on par with activity in Dec; notably, over thirteen planes 27 Jan crossed “median line”. Taiwan spotted 132 Chinese navy vessels in surrounding waters. Taiwan reported significant increase in balloons from China crossing “median line”, tallying at least 22 in Jan compared to seven in Dec. Taiwan’s Defence Ministry 9 Jan issued nationwide emergency alert after China launched satellite which passed through Taiwan’s airspace. USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier 11 Jan deployed east of Taiwan; USS John Finn destroyer 24 Jan transited Taiwan Strait. 

U.S. maintained diplomatic support; Nauru severed ties with Taiwan. Senior U.S. delegation 14 Jan met with political leaders in Taiwan, expressing concern about stability in strait. U.S. House of Representatives 12 Jan passed “Taiwan Non-Discrimination Act of 2023” and “PROTECT Taiwan Act” aimed at advocating Taiwan’s membership of International Monetary Fund and countering Beijing’s efforts to exclude island from financial institutions. Meanwhile, Pacific nation Nauru 15 Jan severed ties and aligned with China, leaving Taiwan with just twelve states recognising it; Pacific island Tuvalu late Jan signalled it would review ties with Taiwan after its own election.

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In The News

14 sty 2024
Taiwanese are increasingly having a very distinctive identity different from the mainland China, and... we are seeing a Beijing that is increasingly more powerful. AFP

Ivy Kwek

Giustra Fellow, China
13 sty 2024
This election [in Taiwan] marks a change in leadership at a moment when cross-strait tensions are high, and preserving stability has become more of a challenge. CNN

Amanda Hsiao

Senior Analyst, China
7 sty 2024
The more Beijing employs coercion on Taiwan, the less effective these actions will [be] on striking fear in the Taiwanese public. AFP

Ivy Kwek

Giustra Fellow, China
14 lis 2023
The Xi-Biden meeting provides an … opportunity for the two leaders to convey to each other that neither seeks to overturn the status quo or kinetic conflict. Newsweek

Amanda Hsiao

Senior Analyst, China
7 mar 2023
Beijing will have to publicly condemn [Taiwan President] Tsai’s visit to the US, their ultimate response will depend on what Tsai says and who she meets with on her trip. The Guardian

Amanda Hsiao

Senior Analyst, China
19 gru 2022
At the moment, we think that China has not fully developed the capability to guarantee a sure victory if it chooses to launch a military option on Taiwan. CNA

Ivy Kwek

Giustra Fellow, China

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