At 7:30 p.m. on September 7th, the 80th “Cross-Strait Talk” (General 156th) hosted by China Cross-Strait Academy (Hong Kong) and Xiamen Qida Taixiang Entrepreneurship Service Co., Ltd.) , was successfully held at the Tencent Conference with the theme of “the Nine-in-One Elections (17) of Hualien County”.
The 2022 "Taiwan Nine-in-One Election" will be held on November 26, 2022, which is an important quadrennial election of local government in Taiwan and is also a key test to re-examine the political performance of politicians. Therefore, it is also called the mid-term examination of the "ruling party". Although Taiwan is only 36,000 square kilometers in size, there are 22 cities and counties on and off the island. Besides, the "nine in one election" at the end of the year has a bearing on the rise and fall of Taiwan's major political forces. Thus, the current election situation in Taiwan is even more complicated as public opinion is rapidly changing and pandemic is rampaging. In this "Cross-Strait Talk" forum, the China Cross-Strait Academy (Hong Kong) has invited experts and scholars from both sides of the Taiwan Strait, including Lian Buming, associate professor of The Open University of Fujian and director of the office of Zhu Gaozheng, former "legislator", Wang Liben, Ph.D. of National Taiwan University, Hsiao Heng Chung, assistant professor of Beijing Union University, Ph.D. of Chinese Culture University, Ph.D. of Peking University, and president of Dong Media, and Wen Tianpeng, Ph.D. candidate of the Institute of Taiwan Studies of Nanjing University, to discuss the topic of “the Nine-in-One Elections (17) of Hualien County”. Their discussion focused on the analysis of the election situation in Hualien County, the pandemic impact on it, and economic, social and livelihood issues of concern to voters here. Mr. Luo Dingjun, Secretary General of the China Cross-Strait Academy (Hong Kong), was the moderator of this session.
Lian Buming believes that Hualien County has been regarded as the world of the Fu family for nearly two decades, where the Fu family's local influence even exceeds that of the KMT. This time, the KMT nominated Xu Zhenwei, the governor of Hualien County and the wife of "Hualien King" Fu Kunqi, for re-election. Especially, after Fu Kunqi returned to the KMT last year, it no longer has to worry about intra-party disputes in the local blue base. Judging from the local strength of the Fu family, the affinity of Xu Zhenwei to create the image of mother, and her ruling background of winning the five-star county magistrate for many times, most outside believe that Xu Zhenwei’s election this time is no suspense, while it is difficult to break through her last super high vote rate.
Wang Liben said that in addition to the first county magistrate who was not a member of the KMT, in the various elections that followed, the KMT had an absolute advantage in most of the situations, which included both structural and historical factors. The DPP tried hard for many years to make a breakthrough here, and until Xiao Meiqin was elected a "legislator," the local political map began to change. However, looking at the election situation in Hualien County in the past 20 years overall, the blue camp still has a greater base. At present, the cross-strait situation is at a low ebb, the crowd of tourists in Hualien County is no longer there, on this occasion, what industry should Hualien County rely on for its economy to support, and how to make Hualien County show prosperity again is the worthiest of deep consideration by the candidates of the blue and green parties at present.
Hsiao Heng Chung proposed that Hualian County is the largest county-level administrative region in Taiwan, where the four ethnic groups, Fujian, Hakka, people of other provinces and aborigines coexist. Candidates must take into account the needs of various ethnic groups when conducting election activities here. Hualien County has always been the dominant area of the KMT. In many elections, the Blue Camp can almost obtain more than half of the votes, while the basic vote source of the DPP in Hualien County can reach about 30%, and the vote source also has a certain stability. In the Hualien County Elections, tribal leaders still have some political influence. The political culture of Hualien County has broken away from the so-called "minister type" political culture and turned to the "participation type" political culture. Voters in Hualien County show a certain sense of political alienation and are reluctant to speak out when it is irrelevant to them. In terms of party identity, the KMT is the main party. Even though we have entered the network era, the offline campaign energy of Hualien County is still far greater than that of online campaign, and the competition between local political parties is maturing.
Wen Tianpeng pointed out that due to the late development of Hualian County and its remote geographical location, the local economy is relatively backward. The residents are mostly "aborigines" and soldiers, workers and educators, so that the blue base is huge. Hualien County has long been a big vote warehouse for the blue camp. Although the basic market has tended to shrink in recent years, the source of votes is relatively stable, and most parliamentary seats are controlled by the KMT. Therefore, as long as there is no division within the blue camp, it is difficult for the DPP to find a breakthrough. However, in the future, with the continuous proportional expansion of young voters and the emergence of the first-time voters, it is likely that the local election situation will become variable. The DPP is likely to devote its resource advantages of the ruling party to try to move the local political map, reverse the local voter structure, and cause qualitative change through the accumulation of quantitative changes. The KMT should be vigilant about this and maintain its unremitting operation in the local area. In Taiwan's political elections, it is difficult to continue without resources.
In addition to the wonderful speeches delivered by the guests, the online audience also actively participated in the interactive questions of the topic, and the audience asked the variables and impact of the Zhang Jun incident on the Hualien election, whether the DPP candidate's background as an "aborigine" can impact the KMT election, whether the local "aboriginal" feelings can be greatly mobilized, and whether young people have low recognition of various factions and other aspects, all the participants answered, the atmosphere of the on-site discussion was warm, highlighting the high concern of youth and scholars on both sides of the Strait.
Lian Buming said that throughout the nomination of the "Nine-in-One Elections" in Taiwan, local factions played a leading role. Under such circumstances, the DPP is making great efforts to impact the election and constantly pry the local political plate. The KMT's basic position may not remain unchanged. If it causes a change in the will of the "aborigines", it may even overturn. Wang Liben pointed out that from a long-term perspective, the KMT's lack of support for youth votes is not conducive to long-term development. Hsiao Heng Chung mentioned that, especially for Hualien County, it is bound to gradually get out of the control of local factions in the future, and young voters will no longer be easily manipulated by local factions. Wen Tianpeng believed that, in the long run, whether the power of local factions will gradually decline and whether the traditional political mobilization model is still effective, should be vigilant and pondered by the KMT.
At the end of the meeting, Lian Buming said that for Hualien voters, the most important thing they considered to vote for is which candidate can truly serve the people and who will work hard for the benefit of the local people. Wang Liben said that Hualien County's pretty natural landscape and ethnic integration are praiseworthy. He hoped that more and more outstanding candidates would be willing to participate in local elections to benefit the people of Taiwan. Hsiao Heng Chung pointed out that most of the "aborigines" have always been supporters of the blue camp. Hualien County is an extremely difficult constituency of the DPP. It is worth observing whether there will be a change in the number of votes in this election. Wen Tianpeng pointed out that the most important thing in the election is the public opinion support of ordinary voters, which depends on whether candidates can do a good job in local service to improve the life of voters. With the DPP’s insistence on Hualien County, the KMT should redouble its efforts.
Through a brief 2-hour online exchange, more than 100 people from both sides of the Strait gathered to discuss the topic of “the Nine-in-One Elections (17) of Hualien County”, to promote cross-strait exchanges with practical actions, and make contributions to maintaining Cross-Strait peace and development.
As the cross-strait exchange activity synchronized with “Cross-Strait Talk” and “Smart Youth Integration in the Four Places”, the Cross-Strait Youth Perspective Forum, which launched by China Cross-Strait Academy (Hong Kong), is mainly characterized by gathering authoritative scholars and media worker from Cross-Strait and four places. They will listen to the voice of the Strait, pay attention to the hot spots on both sides of Taiwan Strait, take a global vision, and make a new voice based on both sides of the strait and facing the world.