At 7:30 p.m. on September 14th, the 82st “Cross-Strait Talk” (General 158th) 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 (18) of Chiayi 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 Wu Kuncai, professor of the Department of Applied History, Chiayi University, Yin Ruihong, Assistant Researcher of Taiwan Exclusive Media Think Tank, Ji Jie, Direstor of the new Party Public Opinion Center, Master of Political Science, National Taiwan University, and former reporter in China Times, and Wang Feng, researcher at the Beijing-Taiwan Culture Research Center at Beijing Union University and doctor at the Taiwan Research Institute at Xiamen University, to discuss the topic of “the Nine-in-One Elections (18) of Hualien County”. Their discussion focused on the analysis of the election situation in Chiayi 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.
Wu Kuncai analyzed the local election situation from the perspective of the local people in Chiayi County. He argues that Chiayi County, which the KMT had a firm grip in the early days, has become a tough constituency for the KMT in recent years. There are many local factions in Chiayi County. In the early stage, the "Huang faction" and the "Lin faction" were the main ones. As the "Huang faction" gradually declined, the "Lin faction" represented by Chen Mingwen dominated. Due to discord with the "Huang faction", the "Lin faction" collectively fell to the DPP in 2001, which also made the local area an absolute advantage area for the greenish camp. Throughout the recent elections in Chiayi County, the blue-green showdown is the main focus. The DPP has dominated the local political landscape for more than 20 years, and this nomination to recruit the current county magistrate Weng Zhangliang for re-election is inevitable. Because of Chen Mingwen's strength, the local county magistrates and parliamentary candidates are almost all controlled by factions. Weng Zhangliang has the advantage of incumbency and the resources of local factions and the DPP authorities. So far, he has a smooth path to re-election.
Yin Ruihong said that the KMT recruited Wang Yumin to challenge Weng Zhangliang, the current head of Chiayi County, who is a member of the DPP. Judging from the expectations of most online polls, the DPP has a very obvious advantage, and its lead is gradually expanding. The DPP has held the ruling power of Chiayi County for more than 20 years. The local people's habitual thinking will attribute the policies that promote the development of Chiayi County to the DPP. Chiayi's high COVID-19 vaccination rate and diverse medical development achievements, while government duties, have also been counted among Mr. Weng's accomplishments. Chiayi's high COVID-19 vaccination rate and diverse medical development achievements, while government duties, have also been counted among Weng Zhangliang's accomplishments. Under the situation that the KMT has lost its ruling advantage, it should make more efforts to manage the network momentum, put forward targeted political views to persuade the public, and actively respond to the election campaign with the momentum of a challenger. It is no different from beating a stone with an egg that fight against the resource advantage of the Tsai Ing-wen government's policies with an empty philosophy.
Ji Jie pointed out that compared with the whole of Taiwan, Chiayi County has a relatively low proportion of people from other provinces, and the proportion of Hakka people is not high, mainly Minnan people. In the early days, local factions were mainly divided into "Huang faction", "Lin faction" and "Xiao faction". Both "Huang faction" and "Lin faction" belonged to the Kuomintang. At that time, the DPP's influence in Chiayi County was relatively weak. However, in 2001, the "Lin faction" headed by Chen Mingwen collectively joined the DPP, which caused a major reversal of the local party's advantage. Chen Mingwen's superposition of the DPP is far more powerful than the "Huang faction". Although the "Huang faction" has gradually declined in recent years, its influence is still greater than that of the Kuomintang itself. In theory, if the Kuomintang sends "Huang faction" people to run for election, it may be able to play a certain advantage. Although Wang Yumin, the candidate recruited by the Kuomintang this time, has no flaws, but due to his limited influence in Chiayi County, it is difficult to help the Kuomintang change the local election situation.
Wang Fengshou pointed out that as a traditional county in Taiwan, Chiayi County played a very important role in the pre-industrial era, and was also one of the sources of local culture in Taiwan. There are many elderly people in the area and the birth rate is low, which makes Chiayi County gradually a super-aging society, and the outflow of young people is serious. The local area is not geographically dominant, the economic development is relatively backward, and the income of the people is relatively low. The local people tend to identify with factions more than political parties, and their local friendship is greater than their appeal for public policies. For the DPP, Chiayi County has a strategic position to lead the overall situation. The DPP’s current governance policy for the whole of Taiwan is that the north continues to absorb talents and resources from the south, which will become a long-term trend. At the same time, the DPP also implements the practice of supporting the south from the north, and spills the obtained public finance and human resources to the south again in the form of public power, making the southern region more and more highly dependent on the DPP regime, and realizing the purpose of the DPP to continuous expand the influence in the south.
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 whether the DPP's so-called "defending Taiwan against China " card could play a role in the elections in Chiayi County. Can the Kuomintang use the power of the "Huang faction" to exert a certain influence in Chiayi County and why there are so many non-party members in Chiayi County's council, 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.
Wu Kuncai said that the "defending Taiwan against China " strategy has almost become the nirvana weapon that the DPP will pull out at any time in the election campaign. As for when to use it, it is only a matter of considering its influence. With Weng Zhangliang's current absolute advantage, the DPP may not need to play this card at all. Chen Mingwen is a typical representative of the dark forces. Local factions are becoming more and more corrupt and degenerate, and the DPP may also step into the old path of the Kuomintang's corruption ruining its future. Yin Ruihong pointed out that Chiayi County has a high degree of aging, and its political orientation is relatively fixed, so it is less likely to change its voting direction with policies. At the same time, the election situation of the DPP in Chiayi County is relatively stable, and there is almost no need to use the "defending Taiwan against China " brand to incite populism. Ji Jie mentioned that from the poll data over the years, although the influence of the "Huang faction" is greater than that of the Kuomintang itself, judging from the current momentum, it is not enough to overthrow the DPP and create a chance to win the election. In some dark green constituencies in Taiwan, public hostility to the Kuomintang is serious. In the future, if the Kuomintang uses a comity to run for election without a party, it may be a way to pull down the DPP. Wang Fengshou believes that the political culture of rural society is more inclined to local factions, rather than making choices on party ideology. Chen Mingwen and his entire faction have become a cancer in Chiayi County, which is almost a fief under his control, and this kind of private operation is in fact the embodiment of Taiwan's political decline. The resources of the DPP authorities are basically used to enrich their own pockets, and they cannot really form favorable policies for local young people. In a sense, as long as Chen Mingwen's influence does not fall, it is difficult for Chiayi County to break through the old model and seek a new development path.
At the end of the meeting, Wu Kuncai believes that Chiayi County will never be able to embrace a bright future if it cannot get rid of the four root causes of "poverty, foolishness, weakness and privacy". Yin Ruihong said that the current election situation of the DPP in Chiayi County is relatively stable. If the Kuomintang wants to counterattack, it needs to actively use public opinion to build momentum for the candidates.
Ji Jie said that for the Kuomintang, the Chiayi County constituency is quite difficult, but if the DPP loses its ruling power here, then the Kuomintang will win the Taiwan-wide election just around the corner. Wang Fengshou pointed out that how to guide the villagers to the modern political civilization is a problem worth pondering. The people of Chiayi should not just be swayed by local feelings, but to elect people who can truly lead Chiayi County to better and better.
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 (18) of Chiayi 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.