China-Taiwan Weekly Update, June 23, 2023

China-Taiwan Weekly Update, June 23, 2023

Authors: Nils Peterson and Roy Eakin of the Institute for the Study of War

Editors: Dan Blumenthal and Frederick W. Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute

Data Cutoff: June 22 at Noon ET

The China–Taiwan Weekly Update focuses on Chinese Communist Party paths to controlling Taiwan and relevant cross–Taiwan Strait developments.

Key Takeaways  

1.      Ongoing scandals involving the DPP and KMT are likely contributing to greater support for TPP presidential candidate Ko Wen-je.
2.      China emphasized economic cooperation over de-risking and the protection of advanced technological sectors for national security purposes during meetings with German officials, likely to split US-EU technological and economic restriction strategies aimed at China.
3.      China refused to restart military-to-military dialogue with the United States, possibly to extract political concessions from the United States for future dialogue.

Taiwan Developments

This section covers relevant developments pertaining to Taiwan, including its upcoming January 13, 2024 presidential and legislative elections.


The Taiwanese (Republic of China) political spectrum is largely divided between the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Kuomintang (KMT). The DPP broadly favors Taiwanese autonomy, Taiwanese identity, and skepticism towards China. The KMT favors closer economic and cultural relations with China along with a broader alignment with a Chinese identity. The DPP under President Tsai Ing-wen has controlled the presidency and legislature (Legislative Yuan) since 2016. This presidential election cycle also includes the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) candidate Ko Wen-je who frames his movement as an amorphous alternative to the DPP and KMT. It is normal for Taiwanese presidential elections to have third party candidates, but none have ever won. The 2024 Taiwan presidential and legislative elections will be held on January 13, 2024 and the new president will take office in May 2024. Presidential candidates can win elections with a plurality of votes in Taiwan.

Ongoing scandals involving the DPP and KMT are likely contributing to greater support for TPP presidential candidate Ko Wen-je. The sexual assault scandal that largely focused on the DPP was the dominant story in Taiwanese media from May 31 to June 8 and led to the DPP announcing systemic reforms.[1] The media shifted its attention to a scandal about the drugging of children at a Kid Castle Educational Institute in New Taipei on May 31. The drugging scandal affected KMT presidential candidate Hou Yu-ih because he is the mayor of New Taipei.[2] The TPP and TPP presidential candidate Ko Wen-je have not been implicated in either scandal. The polling data shows that the TPP has gained popular support amid the scandals.

  • Ko polled in third place prior to the scandals.[3] He is now polling in second place behind DPP nominee Lai Ching-te (William Lai).[4]  
  • Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation poll revealed a four-percent point increase in support for Ko between May and June. This increase is greater than gains for Ko in the foundation’s previous polls, which included a two and a half percent point increase in support between April and May.[5]
  • Another Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation poll also shows that party identification with the TPP increased by seven percentage points between May and June, compared to nearly seven percent point drop in identification with the DPP and a nearly six percent point drop with the KMT.[6]

Progressive pan-green parties, such as the New Power Party (NPP) and Taiwan Statebuilding Party, have also made gains in the polls. This highlights how the scandals are affecting the presidential campaigns beyond the DPP, KMT, and TPP.[7]

Ko articulated a controversial policy as part of his electoral platform, which may undermine the support he has gained while the DPP and KMT are facing scandals. Ko announced his support for resuming cross-strait talks involving the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement (CSSTA) on June 20.[8] The CSSTA is an unratified cross-strait trade agreement involving telecommunications, banking, and healthcare that many Taiwanese view as controversial due to the secretive nature of the negotiations process.[9] It also sparked the Sunflower Movement that successfully prevented the agreement from passing in 2014 via protests that led to the occupation of the Legislative Yuan for the first time in Taiwanese history. Taiwan’s media is focused on the scandals, but such stories will not dominate press coverage of the elections in the mid-to-long term. Rather, the trend is that cross-strait relations is the central issue for Taiwan’s presidential elections. The last two Taiwanese presidential elections, which occurred in 2016 and 2020, centered around the candidates’ differing views of cross-strait relations.[10] The 2024 presidential election coverage also focused on cross-strait relations until the sexual assault and drugging scandals. Ko’s controversial and unpopular stance on the CSSTA will therefore re-open a divisive debate on cross-strait relations in Taiwanese politics and chip away at his appeal as a pragmatic non-polarizing candidate.

China Developments

This section covers relevant developments pertaining to China and the governing Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

China emphasized economic cooperation over de-risking and the protection of advanced technological sectors during meetings with German officials, likely to split US-EU technological and economic restriction strategies aimed at China. A May Group of Seven (G-7) joint statement discussed the importance of “de-risking” from China.[11] Germany later released its first National Security Strategy (NSS) on June 14, which refers to China as a “partner, a competitor, and a systemic rival.”[12] Chinese Premier Li Qiang subsequently traveled to Europe as part of an effort to strengthen ties with Europe after the EU removed five Chinese companies from an export restrictions list during the week of June 12.[13] The CCP views his visit as a way to split an increasingly hostile US approach to China by wooing Europe with prospects of further economic collaboration.

Chinese Premier Li Qiang warned about the supposed dangers of de-risking during his first overseas visit to Germany on June 19 and 20.[14] Li told audiences of German politicians and business figures that Germany and China do not have “fundamental conflicts of interest” and that “risk prevention and cooperation are not mutually exclusive.”[15] Li instead said that “the biggest risk is non-cooperation” while acknowledging that other parties have their own unspecified security concerns.[16] This type of rhetoric aims to prevent US-EU consensus on de-risking from materializing and threatening Chinese economic interests. The CCP strongly objected to multinational semiconductor restrictions targeting China that the US led in February in conjunction with Japan and the Netherlands.[17] The PRC aims to prevent similar and wider scale coordination aimed at degrading China’s economy

Li’s efforts to split US-EU technological and economic restriction strategies continued during his June 22 visit in France. Li called for the French government to provide a “fair, just, and non-discriminatory” business environment to Chinese firms during a meeting with French business leaders where he praised the French government’s “opposition to bloc confrontation and decoupling.”[18] He also called for a ”more resilient” Sino-French and Sino-European industrial supply chain upon his arrival to France.[19]   Greater resilience implies that there is a need to hedge against disruptions, which Chinese state media often frame as a result of US-led efforts.[20]

China refused to restart military-to-military dialogue with the United States, possibly to extract political concessions from the United States for future dialogue. China suspended military-to-military dialogue to express opposition to then–US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s August 2022 visit to Taiwan.[21] US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited China on June 18-19, during which he called for future exchanges and dialogue in military and non-military disciplines.[22] CCP officials, including General Secretary Xi Jinping, emphasized during Blinken’s visit that China will not adjust its approach to Taiwan. They also stressed the United States is responsible for the current poor state of US-China relations and needs to adjust its approach to China .[23]

Xi emphasized China’s willingness to cooperate internationally on scientific and technological matters during a meeting with Bill Gates on June 16 in Beijing, likely to support Sino-American private sector relationships as leverage points in the US system.[24] The general secretary framed this willingness as part of a broader push to provide ”Chinese solutions to global challenges” via the Global Security, Global Development, and Global Civilizational Initiatives.[25] Xi stated that Gates is his first “American friend” to visit China in 2023 and stressed the importance of Sino-American people-to-people relations.[26] The CCP also portrayed the United States government as intransigent while framing the American business community embodied by Bill Gates as drivers of progress. This framing aims to persuade the United States government to change its sanctions-related policies that target China. Targeting the American private sector provides a route for the PRC to push for its preferred US policies via sympathetic business entities that stand to profit financially from scientific and technological cooperation with China.

[1] https://news.ltn dot

https://news.ltn dot

https://www.chinatimes dot com/newspapers/20230603000359-260118?chdtv
https://www.cna dot


[3] https://www.tpof dot org/%e9%81%b8%e8%88%89/%e7%b8%bd%e7%b5%b1%e9%81%b8%e8%88%89/2024%e5%8f%b0%e7%81%a3%e7%b8%bd%e7%b5%b1%e9%81%b8%e6%b0%91%e7%9a%84%e6%94%af%e6%8c%81%e5%82%be%e5%90%91%ef%bc%9a%e7%95%b6%e8%b3%b4%e3%80%81%e4%be%af%e3%80%81%e6%9f%af%e4%b8%89%e4%ba%ba%e7%ab%b6/

 https://www.tpof dot org/%e9%81%b8%e8%88%89/%e7%b8%bd%e7%b5%b1%e9%81%b8%e8%88%89/2024%e5%8f%b0%e7%81%a3%e7%b8%bd%e7%b5%b1%e9%81%b8%e6%b0%91%e7%9a%84%e6%94%af%e6%8c%81%e5%82%be%e5%90%91%ef%bc%882023%e5%b9%b44%e6%9c%8818%e6%97%a5%ef%bc%89/

[4] http://www dot

https://www.tpof dot org/%e9%81%b8%e8%88%89/%e7%b8%bd%e7%b5%b1%e9%81%b8%e8%88%89/2024%e5%8f%b0%e7%81%a3%e7%b8%bd%e7%b5%b1%e9%81%b8%e6%b0%91%e7%9a%84%e6%94%af%e6%8c%81%e5%82%be%e5%90%91%ef%bc%882023%e5%b9%b46%e6%9c%8820%e6%97%a5%ef%bc%89/

[5] https://www.tpof dot org/%e9%81%b8%e8%88%89/%e7%b8%bd%e7%b5%b1%e9%81%b8%e8%88%89/2024%e5%8f%b0%e7%81%a3%e7%b8%bd%e7%b5%b1%e9%81%b8%e6%b0%91%e7%9a%84%e6%94%af%e6%8c%81%e5%82%be%e5%90%91%ef%bc%882023%e5%b9%b46%e6%9c%8820%e6%97%a5%ef%bc%89/

https://www.tpof dot org/%E9%81%B8%E8%88%89/%E7%B8%BD%E7%B5%B1%E9%81%B8%E8%88%89/2024%E5%8F%B0%E7%81%A3%E7%B8%BD%E7%B5%B1%E9%81%B8%E6%B0%91%E7%9A%84%E6%94%AF%E6%8C%81%E5%82%BE%E5%90%91%EF%BC%9A%E7%95%B6%E8%B3%B4%E3%80%81%E4%BE%AF%E3%80%81%E6%9F%AF%E4%B8%89%E4%BA%BA%E7%AB%B6/

https://www.tpof dot org/%E9%81%B8%E8%88%89/%E7%B8%BD%E7%B5%B1%E9%81%B8%E8%88%89/2024%E5%8F%B0%E7%81%A3%E7%B8%BD%E7%B5%B1%E9%81%B8%E6%B0%91%E7%9A%84%E6%94%AF%E6%8C%81%E5%82%BE%E5%90%91%EF%BC%882023%E5%B9%B44%E6%9C%8818%E6%97%A5%EF%BC%89/

[6] https://www.tpof dot org/%e7%b2%be%e9%81%b8%e6%96%87%e7%ab%a0/2023%e5%b9%b46%e6%9c%8815%e6%97%a5%e3%80%8c%e5%8f%b0%e7%81%a3%e4%ba%ba%e6%9c%80%e6%96%b0%e7%9a%84%e6%94%bf%e9%bb%a8%e6%94%af%e6%8c%81%e5%82%be%e5%90%91%e3%80%8d/

[7] https://www.tpof dot org/%e7%b2%be%e9%81%b8%e6%96%87%e7%ab%a0/2023%e5%b9%b46%e6%9c%8815%e6%97%a5%e3%80%8c%e5%8f%b0%e7%81%a3%e4%ba%ba%e6%9c%80%e6%96%b0%e7%9a%84%e6%94%bf%e9%bb%a8%e6%94%af%e6%8c%81%e5%82%be%e5%90%91%e3%80%8d/

[8] https://en.rti dot

[9] https://en.rti dot


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[11] https://www.whitehouse dot gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2023/05/20/g7-hiroshima-leaders-communique/

https://www.cnbc dot com/2023/05/22/g-7-leaders-de-risk-china.html

[12] https://www.nationalesicherheitsstrategie dot de/en.html

[13] https://www.scmp dot com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3224407/chinese-envoy-eu-denies-committing-halt-sanctions-busting-shipments-russia

[14] https://apnews dot com/article/germany-china-new-premier-li-qiang-visit-82c31dad749a40cfc8a7b4b8c83d57de

[15] http://cpc dot

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[17] https://www.fmprc dot

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[19] http://cpc.people dot

[20] https://www.globaltimes dot cn/page/202306/1291793.shtml

[21] https://www.fmprc dot

[22] https://www.fmprc dot

[23] http://cpc dot

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[24] https://www.fmprc dot

[25] http://politics.people dot

[26] https://www.fmprc dot


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