Inside Story

Will the US stick with Taiwan?

Landslide victory for Taiwan’s pro-independence president as voters reject closer ties with China.

Tsai Ing-Wen‘s emphatic re-election sent a clear message that Taiwan rejects China‘s plans for reunification with the island.

It was a remarkable turnaround for the president whose party suffered large losses in local elections just a year ago. 

However, months of anti-government protests in nearby Hong Kong boosted her campaign as younger voters appeared to have been galvanised by scenes of police cracking down on demonstrators.

Tsai warned that Taiwan’s democratic rights must be preserved. The island has its own military, currency and a passport accepted by most countries. Crucially, however, it does not have a seat at the United Nations.

Only 15 countries fully recognise Taiwan’s democratic government and the United States is not one of them, but Washington is the island’s most important ally and trading partner.

So how might Beijing respond to Tsai’s win, which gives her a second term in office?

And how far is the US prepared to go to defend Taiwan?

Presenter: Martine Dennis


Joseph Cheng – Retired professor of political science at City University of Hong Kong

Andy Mok – Senior research fellow with the Centre for China and Globalisation

Drew Thompson – Visiting senior research fellow with the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and a former US Defense Department official