Taiwan’s democratic elections calls for political reform within China

Taiwan’s democratic elections pose a challenge to China’s governance model, sparking calls for political reform within China.

Taiwan’s recent elections have ignited scrutiny over China’s political system, challenging Beijing’s assertion that its governance model best serves the Chinese populace. In January, Taiwan conducted its eighth presidential election concurrently with a parliamentary vote, showcasing its commitment to free and fair democratic processes.

While Taiwan embraces multiparty elections, just 160 kilometers away across the Taiwan Strait, China’s Communist Party (CPC) has maintained one-party rule since 1949. Despite claims of “whole-process people’s democracy,” China lacks an electoral process comparable to Taiwan’s, prompting criticism from mainland Chinese like who refute President Xi Jinping’s portrayal of democracy.

Taiwan’s successful democratic practices directly challenge Beijing’s narrative that liberal democracy is incompatible with Chinese culture. This clash between Taiwan’s liberal democratic system and Xi’s vision of a CPC-controlled Chinese nation underscores the sensitivity of Taiwanese elections for Beijing, as they can inspire mainland Chinese to aspire for similar democratic rights.

Notably, the Chinese government refrained from congratulating Taiwan on its election outcomes, highlighting the strained relations between Beijing and Taipei since President Tsai Ing-wen’s election in 2016. The CPC views Tsai, President-elect William Lai Ching-te, and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) as separatists and has not ruled out the use of force to unify Taiwan with China.

Critics within China have voiced dissent over Beijing’s handling of Taiwan’s elections, highlighting the lack of democratic freedoms within China itself. Despite attempts by Chinese censors to suppress dissenting voices on social media platforms, discontent with the Beijing government’s authoritarian control remains palpable.

The Taiwanese elections also serve as a reminder of the divergent paths taken by Beijing and Taipei. While Taiwan enjoys free elections, a robust economy, and strong ties with Western nations, China grapples with economic challenges and stringent government control, exacerbated by incidents like the COVID-19 lockdown in Shanghai in 2022.

Taiwan’s elections offer a glimpse of an alternative political system, sparking calls for political reform within China. People believe that adopting similar democratic reforms in China could enhance the CPC’s legitimacy and demonstrate a genuine commitment to a people’s democracy.

In conclusion, Taiwan’s democratic elections serve as a potent reminder of the aspirations for political freedom within China, challenging Beijing’s authoritarian grip and prompting calls for democratic reform.