At 7:30 p.m. on December 28, the 110th “Cross-Strait Talk” (General 186th), 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 “A great victory for the KMT! Will it truly remember the ups and downs from 2018 to 2020?”.
On December18, the KMT secured a significant victory in the “nine-in-one” local elections in 2022 in Taiwan by winning the position of Chiayi’s mayor. In addition to losing every county and city north of Zhuoshuixi, the DPP only won five seats and had even poorer polling results in the traditionally gDPP-leaning southern region than in 2018. After the election, Tsai Ing-wen, the party's chair, took the blame and resigned. However, it must be kept in mind that four years ago, the "Han Wave" of Han Guoyu had swept across Taiwan in 2018, making the KMT sweep away the gloom of the 2016 general election defeat. At that time, the possible candidates of the KMT leaders in Taiwan all outperformed the DPP, and the KMT seemed to win the 2020 general election in sight. However, the influence of an unified DPP and a split KMT, together with the DPP’s successful speculation of “resisting the mainland China to protect Taiwan” and the fact that Han Guoyu was just elected mayor of Kaohsiung and soon set out for 2020, the KMT was ultimately defeated and lost all the way to the end in the "four major referendums" and various by-elections of the legislators in 2021. Looking back on elections from 2018 to 2020 and looking ahead to the 2024 election, will the KMT truly remember this lesson from the past? Ultimately, which party can unite will be the most important in determining who will win in 2024. In this “Cross-Strait Talk”, China Cross-Strait Academy (Hong Kong) specially invited experts and scholars from both sides of the strait, including Chen Liling, spokesperson of the New Party, former director of the Environmental Protection Bureau and director of the Agriculture Bureau of Taoyuan City; Qin Weiteng, associate researcher of the Center for Contemporary China Studies at Chung Hsing University; Song Sihan, a young Taiwanese who studies international politics and society; Zhang Meng, assistant researcher of the Institute of Taiwan Studies at Nanjing University and doctor of the School of History at Nanjing University, to discuss the topic of “A great victory for the KMT! Will it truly remember the ups and downs from 2018 to 2020?” They concentrated on issues like who would win the KMT election in 2024, why the KMT is fighting both internally and externally, whether the KMT would learn from its mistakes, how the united DPP would break up the KMT in 2024, and whether the TPP would be an untimely bomb for the KMT or its best ally in the 2024 election. Luo Dingjun, Secretary General of China Cross-Strait Academy (Hong Kong), served as the host of the meeting.
According to Chen Liling, Taiwan had the Blue Camp occupying the north and the Green Camp occupying the south as a result of the "nine-in-one" election, and the DPP seemed to be defeated in the election. However, the recent election of county and city councilors revealed that the Green Camp held a greater majority of seats than the Blue Camp, which also reflected the split voting of voters. In addition, defections from the KMT have also been reported in Tainan, Kaohsiung, and Keelung, suggesting that there are issues within the party. Therefore, facing the 2024 election, the KMT must select the most qualified candidate to regain power.
The remarkable success of the Blue Camp in the "nine-in-one" election this year, according to Qin Weiteng, also gave Chu Li-luan , the party's chairman, optimism of competing in 2024. In fact, his dream of winning the leadership of Taiwan has never stopped since 2016. However, Chu’s playing hard-to-get during the 2016 general election also destroyed his painstakingly managed personal image. Later, Han Guoyu defeated him in the party primary election in 2020, and he was unable to compete in the Taiwan leadership election. However, Chu’s ambition is still unvaried. In particular, the victory of the KMT in the local elections this year makes him blindly believe that he has made great efforts and has a better chance to fight in the 2024 general election. In the 2024 inner-party primary election, Chu might still be an also-run, nevertheless, given the current public opinion trend.
The DPP, as Song Sihan said, is not impeccable, but the major distinction between the DPP and the KMT is that the DPP will only fight in the party's primary election and there will never be anyone who leaves the party to run for office. Whether it is based on the establishment of the party system or the deal behind it, once the outcome of the primary is decided, all candidates will unconditionally support the victor, which also paves the way for the DPP to fight the election. In contrast, the splits within the Blue Camp often lead to the candidates leaving their parties and running in the election, thus causing the splits of votes. Therefore, the implementation of an internal primary election system and rigorous party discipline may be crucial to the outcome of the election. The KMT has no system of party discipline at all, which is a great detriment to the KMT since people can still rejoin the party after a three-year absence, regardless of how much harm has been done to the party.
When results of the "nine-in-one" election were announced, the whole Blue Camp was excited, but according to Zhang Meng, the KMT's next major concern was who would be running in 2024 general election. If the infighting situation in 2018 would happen again, the KMT may also repeat the same mistake in the 2024 general election. At present, Jaw Shaw-kong and Lo Chih-chiang have expressed their willingness to participate in the election. Besides, though Chu Lilun and Hou Yu-ih have not made a clear statement, they are also likely to join the battle. Meanwhile, Gou Taiming and Lu Shiow-yen may also become potential candidates in the future.
In addition to the wonderful speeches delivered by the guests, the online audience also actively participated in the interactive questions on the topic. The audience asked questions about who is the best candidate for the KMT to run in the 2024 Taiwan leadership election at the current stage, as well as Ko Wen-je’s plan in the 2024 election. All the guests at the meeting answered these questions, and the discussion was heated, highlighting the great concern on the issue.
Among them, Chen Liling believed that the Blue Camp will experience a contentious internal conflict in 2024 as the KMT now lacks any party assets. Meanwhile, in 2024, Taiwan may experience a significant change in its current circumstances if it is unable to choose capable leaders and restart diplomatic relations with the mainland China. Qin Weiteng said that under Taiwan's electoral system, the solidarity within the DPP and the KMT is not as firm as a rock. As long as the lure of interests is enough, it will definitely lead to the division. As a result, the strength of the lure frequently determines how cohesive the two parties are. Song Sihan proposed that the best way for Ko Wen-je to win the 2024 championship is to win the votes of the centrists by taking actions to fight against both the Blue Camp and the Green Camp. This may cause the splitting votes for the KMT to some extent, but the DPP may suffer even greater losses. Meanwhile, if Ko Wen-je can have more unique views on cross-strait relations and take the initiative to open a visit to the mainland China, it will attract more voters who pursue the peaceful development between the two sides. Zhang Meng pointed out that the performance of the TPP in this election was far from pretty. Even though it intended to break away from being a minor party, Ko’s resignation as mayor of Taipei instead caused it a lot of issues, including a loss of influence in media and network. Meanwhile, the lack of funding will also make it difficult for it to organize and mobilize, making the overall situation less optimistic.
At the end of the meeting, the DPP, according to Chen Liling, has been in power for eight years, has done whatever it wanted, and committed far too many evil deeds to list them all. Therefore, as quickly as feasible, the KMT should come to an agreement, choose the finest candidate to lead the Blue Camp back to power, and advance the reunion between the two sides. According to Qin Weiteng, Taiwan's electoral politics are perilous and unpredictable, and the KMT and DPP will face many challenges in the upcoming year. If the KMT can adapt to public opinion and nominate Hou Yu-ih to compete in the election, it might be a potent tool for the Blue Camp to regain power. Song Sihan believed that the KMT has been over-drafting its credibility in recent years, which has led to the party's loss of influence. At present, the primary task of the Blue Camp is to establish a reliable primary election system, restore its integrity, unite the forces within the party, and select the most suitable candidates. Zhang Meng stated that a variety of circumstances, including Sino-US ties, cross-strait relations, and the DPP's political resource operations, will affect the municipal elections in Taiwan in 2024. The KMT should unite, strengthen its positions, take on more responsibility in cross-strait relations, and actively participate in promoting the development of both sides of the Taiwan Strait in a peaceful manner.
Through a brief 2-hour online exchange, more than 140 people from both sides of the strait gathered to discuss the topic of “A great victory for the KMT! Will it truly remember the ups and downs from 2018 to 2020?”, 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 is 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.