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Taiwan Election: Billboard Shift Marks Political Realignment, Potential U.S.-China Tensions Loom

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Rafia Tasleem
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Taiwan Election: Billboard Shift Marks Political Realignment, Potential U.S.-China Tensions Loom

In a dramatic move following the collapse of the Blue and White (Kuomintang and People's Party) alliance, Kuomintang legislative candidate Ye Yuanzhi hastily obscured an image of Ko Wen-je on his campaign billboard on the 25th. To replace it, a movie billboard painter was hired to meticulously hand-draw the portrait of Kuomintang vice-presidential candidate Zhao Shaokang. The painter began with outlining the contours on the 25th and resumed work on the 28th. Ye Yuanzhi kept the public updated by livestreaming the progress, where Zhao's facial features were made distinct. The reactions from netizens were a mixed bag, while some were impressed with the likeness, others suggested tweaks for a better resemblance.

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An Election Fraught with Complexity and High Stakes

The upcoming 2024 presidential election in Taiwan, scheduled for January 13, has the potential to reignite tensions between the U.S. and China, depending on Beijing's reaction to the outcome. The United States, while acknowledging Beijing’s one-China policy, continues to support Taiwan's democracy and arms it with weapons. As the election approaches, it's shaping up to be one of the most fragmented in Taiwan's democratic history, with a third-party candidate posing a significant challenge to the traditional two-party system.

The Intricacies of Campaign Strategy and Public Polls

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Recent polls conducted from November 24–26 by the mainland-friendly broadcaster TVBS showed Lai enjoying the support of 34 per cent of respondents. Other surveys carried out immediately after the collapse of the KMT and TPP's intended alliance showed similar results, with Hou performing better than expected and the margin between Lai and Hou narrowing. Meanwhile, Taiwan's representative to the United States, Hsiao Bi-khim, bid her colleagues in Washington D.C. a heartfelt goodbye on Monday after stepping down to run as Vice President Lai Ching-te's running mate in the 2024 presidential election.

China's Role and Disinformation Tactics

As the election season heats up, the opposition parties have hinted that a KMT-TPP alliance might not be off the cards entirely. Meanwhile, Beijing is expressing concern that a split in Taiwan’s opposition could allow the ruling party, which China strongly disapproves of, to maintain power. China took center stage in election campaigning over the weekend, leading to a flurry of discussions. Furthermore, a 'new wave of disinformation' is expected to hit Taiwan as the presidential election approaches. The New York Times reported on Taiwan's efforts to counter China’s ever-evolving and increasingly subtle disinformation tactics.

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