What We Learned From Taiwan’s Elections
Current Vice President Lai Ching-te won the Taiwanese presidency on January 13 in a monumental, internationally watched election.
Lai is arguably the most pro-independence politician to win Taiwan’s presidency. Many believe his victory will cause China to take the island by force. Veteran investor David Roche said it put Taiwan on a “collision course with China.”
Lai is a member of the Democratic Progressive Party (dpp), the most anti-China party in Taiwanese politics, and has supported Taiwanese independence. “I am a pragmatic worker for Taiwanese independence,” he said in 2017. “I will never change this stance, no matter what office I hold.”
Since becoming vice president to President Tsai Ing-we, Lai has calmed his pro-independence rhetoric. Yet he plans to increase defense spending while drawing closer to Taipei’s top ally, the United States.
Overall, the Taiwanese people do not want official independence. Most prefer the “one-China policy,” in which Taiwan is not officially independent but still governs itself. Declaring independence would likely spark a Chinese invasion.
China and the U.S. fear Lai’s toned-down rhetoric is a facade. While campaigning, Lai said he longed for the day when “the president of Taiwan can walk into the White House,” which some took to mean he would push for official Taiwanese recognition from the U.S. Lai responded to such assertions by saying, “Although Taiwan independence is the dpp’s stance, procedurally, it fully respects the will of the Taiwanese people.”
Lai’s top competitor, Hou Yu-ih of the Kuomintang (kmt) party, was a more pro-China candidate. He does not believe China should absorb Taiwan, but that Taiwan should appease China through cooperation.
Ko Wen-je represented the Taiwan People’s Party (tpp). His middle-ground stance appealed to Taiwan’s youth. Ko believes there’s a way to meet Beijing at the negotiation table while also securing Taiwan’s future by upping the defense budget. He doesn’t want Taiwan to be tied to China or the U.S. Some polls projected his popularity much higher than that of Lai or Hou among 20-to-40-year-olds. His favorable numbers may indicate what future Taiwanese politics will look like.
China does not like the dpp. When Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016, China cut ties with the island. It described January’s race as “a choice between war and peace.”
Chen Binhua, spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, described Lai as “dangerous,” warning he is a “destroyer of peace” and “the instigator of a potential dangerous war in the Taiwan Strait.”
In an attempt to sway voters, Beijing strengthened its language against Taiwan and flexed its military prowess over the island more than ever.
Past demonstrations of power could have also affected voters. In June 2022, China banned importing certain fish from Taiwan. Taiwan’s fishing industry creates a lot of jobs, and this embargo hit hard. China lifted the ban on Dec. 22, 2023, but it showed how easily Beijing can hurt the Taiwanese populace. Should tensions heighten, a full fishing ban would strike a major blow to Taiwan’s working class.
China reacted to Lai’s victory by offering Nauru, one of the 13 countries that recognized Taiwan, $100 million per year if it severed ties with Taiwan and allied with China. Nauru caved, as numerous other nations have in recent years.
On January 16, the Daily Mail reported that Chinese president Xi Jinping was purging the Chinese military, replacing pacifist generals with men more willing to fight. The next day, 18 Chinese planes conducted “joint combat readiness patrols” with warships—the first major post-election military activity.
The Results and What They Mean
The Taiwanese people defied China and gave Lai 40.05 percent of the vote. Hou followed with 33.49 percent, while Ko received 26.36 percent.
This shows that Taiwan is its own democratic state. The Taiwanese people are willing to defy Chinese ideology, propaganda and aggression. Lai’s victory will likely increase tensions. Some speculate it has made a peaceful takeover by China impossible.
The new Taiwanese government takes office on May 20, and U.S. President Joe Biden will likely be replaced by Donald Trump (who was a strong friend of Taiwan) soon. One analyst noted a Trump-Lai alliance would be a “nightmare scenario” for China. To avoid this, Xi may see these as deadlines for an invasion.
After Taiwan’s elections, Biden said he does not support Taiwanese independence (a policy held since the Reagan era). Many see this as a wise move; it calms tensions to an extent. However, it also injures Taiwan’s trust in the U.S. A September American Portrait survey indicated that only 34 percent of Taiwanese people think the U.S. trustworthy—an 11 percent drop since 2021.
Where This Is Leading
The only certainty is that Taiwan will fall into Chinese hands. Many analysts accept this. But most do not know that Taipei’s fall is indicated in Bible prophecy.
For decades, Trumpet editor-in-chief Gerald Flurry has warned that Taiwan would fall to China. Citing prophecies about a rising Asian alliance, he has shown that Taiwan will not be independent when this axis arises.
It is uncertain whether Taiwan will fall militarily or by diplomatic means. Certain prophecies indicate China will control Taiwan’s semiconductor industry. That end would seemingly negate full-out war, but invasion is still a possibility.
Regardless, in the end, it will be clear how the recent election accelerated Bible prophecy. Read our free booklet Russia and China in Prophecy to understand more.