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Kenny Fisher
Taipei cityscape

Taiwan went to the ballot boxes on the weekend and handed President Tsai Ing-wen a resounding re-election victory. Tsai won 57% of the vote, compared to 38% for Han Kuo-yu. The choice was crystal clear for Taiwanese voters, as Tsai favors independence for Taiwan, while Han, who ran on a pro-China platform.

China has long viewed Taiwan as a renegade province and threatened to take severe action if Taiwan formally declares independence. This means that Tsai must walk a delicate balancing act, and avoid any provocative steps that would poke giant China in the eye. In her election speech, Tsai called on Beijing to drop its threats to take over the island by force, and reminded China that “democratic Taiwan, and our democratically elected government, will not concede to threats and intimidation.”

China has offered Taiwan a “one China-two systems” political system, but Taiwan has steadfastly refused. The violence in Hong Kong likely contributed to Tsai’s landslide victory, as Hong Kong, which has been under the “one China-two systems” setup since 1997, has erupted in protest over China encroaching on democratic rights of Hong Kong citizens. Tsai has dismissed this system outright, calling it “non-viable”.

The U.S. was quick to congratulate Tsai on her victory, which drew condemnation from Beijing. The U.S. will also have to trade carefully, as it supports a pro-Western government in Taiwan, but is also looking to end the bitter trade war with China. The sides are scheduled to sign the “Phase 1′ trade agreement this week in Washington, and President Trump will want to capitalize on that achievement and reach another limited agreement with China. If U.S. support for Taiwan and Hong Kong is too blatant for China’s taste, this could hinder future trade progress with China.

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