With just three months left to the presidential elections in Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), who has never been known to utter the words “Republic of China”, has made a startling statement.
“In the past, obviously, many people had different opinions with regards to the Republic of China — especially the ruthless power that the ROC government was when they took power in 1949. But now that we’ve gone through cycle after cycle of direct presidential elections, today’s ROC government is the government of Taiwan,” said Tsai.
“The ROC government we have today is no longer a government that has come in from the outside. It’s the government of the Taiwan of today,” averred Tsai at a separate rally. “We can be inclusive of the Kuomintang, and we can be inclusive of the ROC government.”
Observers say Tsai’s latest statement — a marked departure from her position last year that the ROC government is a government in exile — is an attempt to claw away as many votes as she can from the Pan-Blue Coalition led by the Kuomintang.
Tsai, who is perceived as the kinder, gentler face of the pro-independence Pan-Green Coalition, has up till now been playing up her Taiwanese identity in her campaign. She now risks alienating the more hardline factions within her party.
Meanwhile, the Kuomintang has already jumped on Tsai’s apparent flip-flop, and the incumbent president Ma Ying-jeou, while refusing to comment directly on Tsai’s statement, echoed at a rally, “The Republic of China is our country, and Taiwan is our home.”