Less than four months before the polling day of Taiwan's presidential election, the overall election dynamics are still fluctuating before the integration of the opposition camp. With the results of the visit of Kuomintang presidential candidate Hou Youyi to the United States, it is believed that the discussion on the Sino-US mediation election and Taiwan's internal policy on cross-strait relations will become clearer in the near future. Until then, the wait-and-see atmosphere from public opinion inside Taiwan and Beijing and Washington will remain strong.

On the whole, the election performance of Taiwan's four main presidential candidates so far can be called conservative; even though they have expressed their views on cross-strait relations, they have not been strong in attack and defense, and they have spoken softly, as if they are afraid that if they talk too much, they will lose and go beyond the "boundary" and the gains will outweigh the losses. The source of the restrictions that shape the "sense of boundaries" of the ruling and opposition candidates is not only the will of Taiwan's internal voters, but also the gaze from Washington and Beijing. Fundamentally speaking, this Taiwan presidential election currently reflects several special elements of certainty and uncertainty, and the key to determining Taiwan's future election situation is clear enough until the dust of many uncertain elements is settled.

First of all, it is certain that the degree of involvement of the two powers in this year's Taiwan election is significantly higher than in the past, but what is uncertain is that the preferred candidate camp of China and the United States is still undecided, and there is no clear sign of intention.

From Beijing's point of view, its unswerving will to reunify Taiwan, since last year's normal military aircraft and ship raiding operations are not expected to be adjusted by Taiwan's general election, Beijing has changed its past concerns about running for the DPP in elections, and the normal military pressure on Taiwan to show a tough stance against independence, can be described as rich confidence, confident performance of the position for Taiwan voters to "reference" and "choice", which is one of the phenomena of Beijing's current election.

Taiwan's military reveals a recent surveillance of the Shandong (behind the photo) of the Navy's Jide-class Keelung warship (DDG-1801) (front photo). (Taiwanese military)

Second, with the exception of Lai Qingde, who is absolutely unlikely to favor the DPP, Beijing has so far been favorable to the three opposition candidates, especially Hou Youyi, a member of the Kuomintang and Ke Wenzhe of the People's Party, and has not rejected Hou Youyi's publication rejecting one country, two systems and proposing a version of the "constitutional consensus of '92." This attitude is left to the results of the integration of Taiwan's opposition camps, and the second is in line with Beijing's open position of rejecting Taiwan independence forces and spreading its arms to "consult with people of insight from all walks of life in Taiwan on national reunification." On the whole, Beijing has shown a gesture of active involvement but not easy choice.

As far as Washington's position is concerned, except for the recent mention by a think tank that Gou's election will harm US interests, Washington has not released a signal to choose a side. Although the Tsai Ing-wen government maintains a certain political tacit understanding with the US government, it is clear that Washington has not extended this "zero accident" trust to Lai Qingde, who is seeking a successor. Even though Lai Qingde is eager to take off the cloak of "Taiwan independence golden grandson," the US side is still quite wait-and-see about its political stance and the changes that may be brought about by cross-strait relations once he takes office.

On the contrary, Hou Youyi's recent visit to the United States to explicitly state that the "3D strategy" has received a general positive comment, one is to inherit Ma Ying-jeou's line to make the United States "fearless", and the other is that Hou Youyi specifically expressed the policy position on cross-strait relations with three points, such as deterrence, dialogue and risk reduction, which is overwhelmingly "acceptable" by Washington. Looking at the cognition of operating "Lai Xie Hou Sheng", supplemented by Ke Wenzhe, who failed to judge and even described it as a ghost card, Washington's intervention posture in this Taiwan election is also obviously waiting for the moment, not in a hurry, which also increases the anxiety of the main candidate camp of Taiwan's ruling and opposition parties to win the support of the United States.

On September 9, AIT Chairman Rosenberg (middle) accompanied Hou Youyi (third from left) to participate in the overseas Chinese dinner in the Greater Washington area. (Courtesy of Hou Youyi's campaign office)

Second, what is certain is that through the successive statements of the candidates, the Taiwan government and opposition have basically regarded peace and maintaining the status quo in the Taiwan Strait as the consensus of this election, but what is uncertain is that in addition to the common divisor of non-war, in view of the basic positioning of cross-strait relations and the direction of future political development, each camp only dares to say the superficial results, so that the non-war consensus has been reduced to a statement, and none of them is operational.

Except for Gou's solitary initiative for the one-China negotiations, it has been observed that the basic language of the cross-strait policy line of the remaining three groups of candidates has been retained so far, and they have completely lived in the comfort zone supported by the votes. There is no other reason, because most voters in Taiwan are still on the sidelines, and there is no policy guidance for cross-strait relations with a certain intensity, so the candidates lack encouragement to stimulate a stronger cross-strait policy debate. In this regard, it is clear at a glance whether Taiwan's ruling and opposition candidates are passive, unconfident, and not committed enough.

Different from the support of Taiwan's political, economic and social atmosphere in 2012, Ma Ying-jeou, Tsai Ing-wen and Soong Chuyu were still able to have a big debate on ECFA, and the focus of Taiwanese society and news today, even if it is locked on whether peace can be maintained in the Taiwan Strait, but basically until the point, most Taiwanese still do not want to fight, do not believe in fighting. The theory of military conflict in the Taiwan Strait by various countries is the same kind of talk on paper, and has been introduced into the strange circle of not being afraid to talk about it, and not being afraid of talking about it.

The atmosphere in which Taiwan is determined to pursue non-war but uncertain to raise concrete demands for peaceful countermeasures has considerably weakened the candidates' boldness in putting forward guiding cross-strait policy proposals. Observing the changes in poll support among candidates in the past few months, the ups and downs are basically related to the restructuring of voters, belonging to the traditional voters' party identification preferences, and the transfer of generational voter preferences to political parties and individual candidates, and the system is quite closed, not driven by external Sino-US relations, changes in cross-strait relations, and even differentiated cross-strait propositions. This leaves short-sighted, vote-only party politicians with no positive incentive to strengthen the argument.

In short, just as Ke Wenzhe's rise in support in June and July has nothing to do with foreign-related ideas, it is simply due to the convergence of political party fundamentals, young voters, and light blue supporters. At the same time, Lai Qingde and Hou Youyi's camp also basically have similar starting points, the former is easy to be too independent, the latter is more likely to be put on a red hat, conservatively pulling support from the support plate of existing political parties, becoming a kind of tacit understanding that does not say or break.

Hou Youyi's visit to the United States has shown extra points and actively managed relations with the United States, but how to deal with Beijing's reunification process is still a major challenge that Hou Youyi cannot avoid. (Courtesy of Hou Youyi's campaign office)

Now, with Hou Youyi's visit to the United States firing a clear cross-strait proposition, it remains to be seen whether it will take the lead and change the status quo that the candidate camps dare not clearly determine and adjust their own line for cross-strait relations.

Looking forward to the follow-up dynamics of Taiwan's general election, in addition to the fundamental question of whether the opposition camp is integrated, whether Taiwanese voters will break away from the "ignorance and boredom" of the peace issue, no longer respond to the deterioration of cross-strait relations with a wait-and-see attitude, and the strengthening of the mediation between Beijing and Washington, and even whether they show their hearts or not, these elements that are still uncertain are like unreached east winds.

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