The Times They Are A-Changin’
If Beijing was surprised by the extent of public support in Taiwan for the “Sunflower Movement” last spring,1 along with everyone else they were stunned by the extent of the KMT debacle in the November 29, 2014, “9-in-1” local elections. For the Mainland, the principal consequence is the need to think through the potential implications of a DPP return to the presidency in 2016 and possibly even DPP control of the Legislative Yuan for the first time. There is unanimity among Mainland observers regarding the need for a harsh PRC response if the DPP openly rejects “one China” and refuses to move away from support of “Taiwan independence.” Opinion is far more divided, however, about how Beijing would—or should—react if the DPP fashions an approach that avoids such direct challenges to the Mainland’s bottom line. That said, although the November results gave the DPP momentum and left the KMT largely dispirited, there are many reasons why a DPP victory in 2016 is hardly a foregone conclusion. In recognition of that reality, both of Taiwan’s political parties are working hard to position themselves for the upcoming contest.