Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China.
The new head of the traditionally pro-China Kuomintang party, or KMT, is promising to take a harder line against Beijing’s influence in Taiwan. Lawmaker Chiang Chi-chen was elected chairman of the KMT on Saturday in the wake of the party’s defeats in Taiwan’s presidential and legislative elections earlier this year. China’s campaign to bring Taiwan under its control was a major factor in that vote, and it could be dealt another blow if the KMT reconsiders its closer ties to Beijing.
The 48-year-old Chiang is the youngest KMT leader in the party’s history. He won 68 percent of the intra-party vote on a pledge to “redesign” the KMT following its stinging defeat in January to President Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party, or DPP. Tsai ran a campaign that was highly critical of China’s Communist Party, which considers Taiwan a breakaway province. Her strategy appealed to many young Taiwanese who have grown increasingly wary of Beijing’s goal of absorbing Taiwan into the People’s Republic of China.