Third time lucky for Taiwan’s Tsai?
President Tsai’s flagship foreign policy aims to redirect bank lending and investment away from China and towards southeast Asia. Taiwan has tried to diversify twice before and failed – will it work the third time?
President Tsai Ing-wen
When running for the highest office in the land, Taiwanese politicians face a conundrum. Do they seek harmony and conciliation with their giant neighbour across the water, or do they seek to provoke difference and dispute with the leaders of the People’s Republic of China, who claim the island state as their own?
Both approaches offer palpable benefits to a rising political star – up to a point. Taiwan’s voting public want their leaders to be strong with Beijing, but only the foolhardy desire a full-scale war of words, let alone a military altercation.
Successive leaders have approached the China question in different ways. Chen Shui-bian, president from 2000 to 2008, was a provocative nationalist who liked to rattle and wrong-foot Beijing.