Although the ruling Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang or KMT) is only scheduled to name its presidential candidate in mid-June, the campaign has been well under way since late spring. While the KMT has sought to keep public attention focused on cross-Strait issues, opposition candidate Tsai Ing-wen has sought to neutralize the issue by declaring that she would maintain the “status quo of peace and stability” while at the same time deflecting attention from it by arguing that there are more important domestic issues at stake. Still, Tsai dropped some intriguing if ambiguous hints of flexibility on cross-Strait policy during her Washington visit in early June.
Though largely following lessons learned in the past about the potential backlash from interfering in Taiwan elections, Beijing has continued to emphasize that adherence to a “one China” approach is essential to keeping cross-Strait relations on an even keel. Nonetheless, some nuance has also been discernible in the Mainland’s statements.