Taiwan’s 2012 Presidential Election May Test Beijing’s New Leaders

A timely reminder from Jacques de Lisle, the University of Pennsylvania law professor who directs the Asia program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Pennsylvania, that not only does China start the transition of its top leadership next year, but that Taiwan, too, will be holding a presidential election, as will the U.S. for that matter.

This three-legged electoral stool may, he suggests in a newly published interview with Knowledge@Wharton, provide an early test for Beijing’s new leaders.

At a moment of formal transition on the Mainland, which–for all the continuity–is a period of high tension when nobody wins points by being soft, and given what are pretty entrenched Chinese suspicions rooted in the pro-independence Chen Shui-bian era of what the [Democratic Progressive Party] in power means, there’s a real risk that China would react very badly to a DPP victory. That risk is particularly significant if it comes in the wake of Mainland-bashing or pro-independence electioneering in Taiwan, which is a real possibility.

Beyond Taiwan, deLisle also has thoughts on Hu Jintao’s legacy and the policy implications of what a princeling dominated new leadership might look like, and how the Youth League faction might balance its. All well worth the read.

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