At 7:30 p.m. on September 16th, the 83rd “Cross-Strait Talk” (General 159th) hosted by China Cross-Strait Academy (Hong Kong) and Xiamen Qidataixiang Entrepreneurship Service Co., Ltd.) , was successfully held at the Tencent Conference with the theme of “the Nine-in-One Elections (19) of Yilan County”.
The “Taiwan Nine-in-One Election” will be held on November 26, 2022 (Saturday). It is an important quadrennial election of local government in Taiwan and is also a key test of politicians’ performance in administration. Therefore, it is called the mid-term examination of the ruling party. Taiwan is only 36,000 square kilometers in size, but 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, China Cross-Strait Academy (Hong Kong) specially invited experts and scholars from both sides of the Taiwan Strait, including Liu Jincai, the Associate Professor form Department of Public Affairs in Fo Guang University, Qin Weiteng, the Associate Researcher at the Centre for Contemporary Chinese Studies in Chung Hsing University and Doctoral Candidate in Institute of International Politics in Chung Hsing University, Hong Jiajun, the commentator of Current Affairs Taiwan and Jiangtao, the Lecturer in School of Marx in Huaqiao University and Doctor from the Taiwan Research Institute of Xiamen University to discuss the topic of “the Nine-in-One Elections (19) of Yilan County”. They focused on the election situation in Yilan County, the impact of the epidemic outbreak on local elections, and the economic, social and livelihood issues which the local voters concerned about, etc. Lou Dingjun, the Secretary General of China Cross-Strait Academy (Hong Kong), served as the host of the meeting.
Hong Jiajun said that Yilan County, located in the northeastern part of Taiwan, has one county-administered city and three towns and eight townships, with a total population of 450,000, among which the most densely distributed population is in Luodong Township and Yilan City. With the Lanyang River as the boundary, the northern part of the river is a major cultural, political and educational towns where the green camp has the upper hand, while the southern part of the river, which focuses on commercial development, is dominated by the blue camp. The KMT recruited the current county mayor, Lin Zi-miao, to seek re-election in Yilan County. She has been elected to the county council for three consecutive terms with high votes, and served as the mayor of Luodong Township. In the last election, Lin Zi-miao became the first woman to break through the so-called “Holy Land of Democracy” iron vote area of the DPP and successfully won the position of county head. Lin Zi-miao is very friendly, and her governance ability and hard work are obvious to all, so her local strength should not be underestimated. The support of the KMT in Yilan County is far from that of the DPP. It can even be said that Lin Zi-miao completed the counterattack by herself. At present, no one in the KMT can take her place to continue to govern in Yilan County.
Qin Weiteng pointed out that the poll data shows that in terms of party support, on the whole, the people in Yilan County are more inclined to Green Camp than Blue Camp. The DPP has always regarded Yilan County as a green camp, and this year it has also made an advance deployment, hoping to make every effort to regain lost ground. From the perspective of the blue-green map distribution in Yilan County, the DPP does have an advantage here. However, Lin Zi-miao is a person from the non-traditional camp of the KMT, so it is not easy for DPP to reclaim so-called “Holy Land of Democracy”. The fact that the population of the Green camp in Yilan County is larger than that of the Blue Camp is not obviously reflected in the election of Lin Zi-miao, and her ability to govern and her performance during her term of office are well recognized by the public. Under such circumstances, Jiang Congyuan, who had a background in serving a prison sentence, may have little success in defeating Lin Zi-miao on suspicion of corruption.
Liu Jincai believed that both Lin Zimiao and Jiang Congyuan are involved in the fraud case, and the two are also fighting each other. Under this situation, the People’s Party candidate Chen Wanhui still only maintains about 5% of the support, and it is difficult for her to take advantage from the struggle of Lin Zi-miao and Jiang Congyuan. According to the current development trend of public opinion, although most voters believe that the corruption case will have an impact on Lin Zi-miao’s election, they also believe that she has a good chance of winning the election. Lin’s government satisfaction and people’s happiness remain high, and voters uphold a positive attitude toward her autonomy in disagreeing with the KMT’s position on many policies. There are also voices about the corruption case involving Lin Zi-miao as a political persecution by the DPP in the election, and Taiwan’s judiciary should not play a political tool in the election, but should move towards independence. Many people even believe that Lin Zi-miao should not withdraw from the election because of the corruption, and the DPP has fully supported its candidates involved in the corruption issue to continue to run for election, so there should be no double standards on this issue.
Jiang Tao pointed out that the reason why Yilan County is called the “Holy Land of Democracy” mainly due to the fact that in the 1980s, various extra-KMT forces were very active in Yilan County. In order to suppress the participation of local members of extra-Party in political activities, the KMT sent Party cadres and Party workers to replace the local factions in Yilan County to run as KMT candidates in the election, which led to the direct collapse of the KMT’s election in Yilan County. After Chen Dingnan was elected as the county chief of Yilan County, it not only meant the collapse of the traditional KMT forces in Yilan County, but also provided the soil for extra-KMT forces and even the DPP forces to gradually establish a firm foundation in Yilan County, and give rise to new trendy factions and other opposition to the KMT’s authoritarian rule. There are six candidates competing in Yilan County. Although the other candidates will not have much influence on the election, the final competition will still be between Lin Zi-miao and Jiang Congyuan, and it is enough to see the enthusiasm of local participation in the election. Although Chen Wanhui, the candidate of the People’s Party, has the advantage of being a woman and having affinity, she lacks the foundation of local service, so it is difficult for her to gain the support of voters.
In addition to the wonderful speeches delivered by the guests, the online audience also actively participated in the interactive Q&A on the topic. Questions from why is it difficult for the DPP to complete faction integration in Yilan County, economic, social and livelihood issues concerned by voters in Yilan County and how to solve the problem of population outflow and aging in Yilan County, etc. All the guests at the meeting answered these questions, and the discussion was heated, highlighting the great concern of young people and scholars on Cross-Strait on the issue of “the Nine-in-One Elections (19) of Yilan County”.
Among them, Hong Jiajun said that for the people of Yilan County, compared to political parties, they pay more attention to whether the government can provide the people with a good life, a livable environment, and economic and transportation construction that are conducive to future development. Therefore, both the DPP and the KMT hope to make more contributions to the construction of Yilan County. Qin Weiteng mentioned that the divided DPP does not have an advantage against the united KMT. In addition, many of voters in Yilan County are seniors, and most of them have human connections. Lin’s husband’s political resources and her own affinity for the grassroots during her tenure will bring extra points to Lin’s election campaign. Liu Jincai pointed out that generations of factional forces such as Taiwan Normal Country Promotion Association and the New Trend faction of the DPP still exist, and they can’t be effectively integrated and the selection of political figures from extra-factions is not acceptable to all factions at present. The rivalry between local factions within the DPP will inevitably lead to division within the party and affect the election. At present, the tourism industry in Yilan County is also affected by the epidemic and the escalating tension between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. In the future, only if the two sides of the Taiwan Strait can regain good interaction can Yilan County’s tourism resources give full play to their strengths and create dividends for the local people. Jiang Tao believed that within the DPP, factional politics has always been a very real problem, the DPP’s current integration dilemma also lies in this. The DPP is a party of factional division of interests, and how to let each faction can get the corresponding benefits in the election process is very important. The core of the factional strife is how to get more political benefits, so the struggle among all factions is very serious. With the gradual rise of the Tsai Ing-wen faction, it will inevitably divide the power of other factions, resulting in internal struggles among local factions in the process of selecting Tsai Ing-wen faction candidates. Many factions will defend their own interests, so it is difficult to complete the full integration.
At the end of the meeting, Hong Jiajun believed that Lin Zi-miao’s local service has achieved great maturity at present, and she has continued to work hard to build infrastructure that is close to public opinion. Under the overall assessment, she has a great chance of re-election. Qin Weiteng suggested that, from the current point of view, it is very difficult for the DPP, which is under the factional division, to challenge the incumbent of the united KMT t in Yilan County. Under the premise that there is no judicial disturbance in the corruption case, Lin Zi-miao has a better chance of being elected than Jiang Congyuan. Liu Jincai said that the people of Taiwan should use their rational minds to elect a political party that supports the 1992 Consensus so that consultation and dialogue can be initiated between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait and Yilan can become the preferred place for developing shipping and leisure tourism with the mainland in the future, creating a win-win situation for both sides. Jiang Tao pointed out that he hoped the epidemic could be over as soon as possible, personnel exchanges and normal exchanges between the two sides could be resumed as soon as possible, so that people on the mainland could enjoy the beauty and food of Yilan in person.
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 (19) of Yilan 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.