Disenfranchisement of many Taiwanese voters during eight years of Nationalist Party (Kuomintang – 國民黨) rule under incumbent President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was largely caused by his policies of economic rapprochement with Mainland China, largely without legislative consultation, which created a dependence on trade with China. Responding to fears of overdependence on Chinese markets, Tsai has announced a “southbound policy” which will focus on increasing trade ties with India and ASEAN nations, distributing its exports across more markets. She has also indicated a desire to diversify Taiwan’s economy from being largely focused on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) exports to investing in the development of other sectors like biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, renewable energy and more.
Tsai has also spoken of increasing defense spending to strengthen the Taiwanese military and deter Beijing from using force to reunify the island with the Mainland, one of its long-standing objectives. The DPP has issued Defense Policy “Blue” Papers which detail the military developments which will undoubtedly be implemented under this DPP majority legislature, and would focus on improving the domestic defense industry capacity. She also looks to maintain close defense ties with regional neighbours and the United States.
While these DPP policies may upset the Chinese leadership in Beijing, Tsai has nevertheless reiterated on numerous occasions her desire to maintain the Cross-Strait status quo and not seek de jure independent status for Taiwan. Thus, by diversifying the Taiwanese economy and its export markets while strengthening the island’s military and alliances, Tsai may just be able to preserve peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
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