On Wednesday, the Taiwanese opposition Kuomintang party chose Hou Yu-ih, a well-liked mayor, as its candidate for the island’s presidential election in 2019. Kuomintang is a party that is friendly with Beijing.
The election in January is largely seen as a referendum on how President Tsai Ing-wen has handled the deteriorating ties between China and self-ruled Taiwan, which have occurred during her time as president.
China has increased the amount of military and diplomatic pressure it is applying to Taiwan throughout Tsai’s two terms in office because she does not recognize China’s assertion that Taiwan is a part of China’s territory.
On the other hand, the Kuomintang, also known as the KMT, has generally supported closer relations with China.
Hou stated on Wednesday during a KMT party meeting that “safeguarding” Taiwan and bringing prosperity would be his primary goals if he were to win the election.
“Because of the current state of affairs on the international stage, our nation is currently in danger of going to war. The 65-year-old man stated that domestically, we are battling against each other while our young people are unable to envision a future for themselves.
“We require a significant paradigm shift. We require new leadership at the helm… Our place of residence is Taiwan. He went on to say that everyone ought to stand united.
Hou, a former police chief, joined politics in 2010 after being nominated by Eric Chu, the then-mayor of New Taipei City and the current chairman of the KMT, to serve as Chu’s deputy. Hou continued to serve in this capacity for the next eight years.
In the local elections of 2018, he was elected to the position of mayor of New Taipei City, which is Taiwan’s largest constituency with almost four million people. He was re-elected the following year.
When Hou was recently asked to clarify his opinion on China at a session of the city council, he stated that he opposed both the independence of Taiwan as well as the “one country, two systems” arrangement, which is the framework under which Hong Kong is administered as a part of China.
The arrangement was suggested by Beijing for Taiwan, but the majority of Taiwanese people have rejected the model as inappropriate. This is especially true after China suppressed political liberties in Hong Kong despite having promised the city some degree of autonomy.
The KMT picked Hou over Terry Gou, the millionaire founder of electronics giant Foxconn. Gou congratulated the New Taipei City mayor on his candidacy Wednesday after Hou was selected as the KMT candidate.
Hou will compete against William Lai, the Vice President of Taiwan, who is 63 years old and has been more vocal than Tsai over Taiwan’s independence.
During an interview in January, Lai stated that he considered Taiwan to already be a “sovereign country,” adding that there is “no need to declare independence again.”
Any step that Taiwan takes toward making a formal declaration, according to statements made by Beijing, will result in a military reaction.