China Project

China-Taiwan Weekly Update, February 15, 2024

Eight PRC high-altitude balloons that crossed the median line in the Taiwan Strait two days in a row on February 9 and 10 are likely part of a campaign to test and erode Taiwan’s military readiness. At least two of the eight balloons on February 9 and at least six of the eight balloons on February 10 flew directly over the island of Taiwan. Eight balloons crossing the median line in the Taiwan Strait in one day is a record high since Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) started publicly tracking such balloons in December 2023. Six balloons flying directly over Taiwan in one day is also a record high. The balloons flew at altitudes ranging from 12,000 to 38,000 feet.

China-Taiwan Weekly Update, February 8, 2024

Unspecified CCP and Russian officials held collaboration talks on the military application of artificial intelligence (AI) in early February. The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the officials “discussed doctrinal guidelines and initiatives of Russia and China related to the application of AI technologies for military purposes.” The South China Morning Post reported that the People’s Republic of China's statement did not refer to the military use of AI, but acknowledged the meeting focused on “outer space security, biosecurity and artificial intelligence.” ISW cannot independently verify the PRC statement. The PRC has portrayed itself as a leader in responsible AI regulation since launching the Global AI Governance Initiative in October 2023. The PRC omitting that it is collaborating with Russia on the military applications of AI aims to avoid undercutting its image as a responsible AI stakeholder via this initiative.

China-Taiwan Weekly Update, February 2, 2023

The Legislative Yuan (LY) elected Kuomintang (KMT) legislature elected Han Kuo-yu speaker of the legislature on February 1. Han received all 52 KMT votes and 2 others from independent legislators in the second round of voting. No candidate secured a majority during the first round. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) nominated incumbent Legislative Yuan Speaker You Si-kun, who received 51 votes from DPP legislators. You had been the speaker of the Legislative Yuan since 2020. The Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) nominated one of its eight legislators, Vivian Huang, and voted unanimously for her. The TPP abstained in the second round of voting. Huang was an unexpected addition to the race, as the TPP had indicated that it would support the DPP or KMT in exchange for political concessions. The potential to secure the TPP’s backing fueled competition between the two parties to appease the TPP until the party announced Huang’s candidacy on January 31. The TPP’s last-minute participation in the LY speaker race caused controversy within the DPP, which viewed the move as an ultimatum to tear DPP support away from its candidate by those who advocated preventing Han’s victory at any cost.

China-Taiwan Weekly Update, January 25, 2024

The PRC continued to send high-altitude balloons into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) after a four-day hiatus. Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) reported PRC high-altitude balloons flying across the Taiwan Strait every day this month except January 16-19. The MND reported a record high of 6 PRC high-altitude balloons violating its Air Defense Identification Zone in one day on January 21. At least one flew directly over Taiwan’s territory. This pattern of activity is consistent with the ISW assessment that the PRC is trying to normalize using balloons in tandem with other aerial and naval ADIZ violations as part of a broader effort to wear down Taiwan’s threat awareness. The break in balloon flights after an uninterrupted streak of daily incursions in the first half of January suggests the recent increase in balloon activities was related to Taiwan’s January 13 election.

China-Taiwan Weekly Update, January 19, 2024

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Lai Ching-te won the Taiwanese presidential election on January 13. Lai won by a margin of nearly seven percentage points over the second-place Kuomintang (KMT) candidate. Lai’s election signals continuity with the cross-strait policy and diplomatic strategy of the incumbent administration of Tsai Ing-wen, during which Taiwan has favored closer cooperation with the United States at the expense of relations with the PRC.

China-Taiwan Weekly Update, January 11, 2024

Taiwan’s three presidential candidates are making their last appeals for votes before the January 13 presidential election. Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Lai Ching-te urged voters to “choose the right road” and not reverse eight years of progress by the Tsai Ing-wen administration. Lai and the DPP also continued past messaging of protecting Taiwan’s democracy against CCP interference. Kuomintang (KMT) candidate Hou Yu-ih and the KMT heavily promoted an appeal for all anti-DPP voters to strategically concentrate their votes on him because he is the candidate most likely to defeat Lai. The KMT also continued criticizing the DPP for alleged corruption and incompetence. Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) candidate Ko Wen-je continued to criticize both major parties and promote his economics-focused “Third Way” campaign.

China-Taiwan Weekly Update, January 4, 2024

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Lai Ching-te continues to lead in the polls. Polls from all major organizations in Taiwan show that Lai maintains a lead of at least three percentage points over Kuomintang (KMT) candidate Hou Yu-ih. Lai’s lead is greater than the margin of error. Some polls, such as Formosa and Mirror News, show that Lai holds more than a ten-point lead over Hou. The Poll of Polls, which is a weighted average of public election polls over the past 15 days that Taiwan News publishes, shows slight changes in candidate support levels since last week. Lai’s support has remained mostly steady at 35.3%, while support for Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) candidate Ko Wen-je grew by three percentage points to 24%. Hou fell nearly two points to 28.7%, however. The slight shift in voter support comes after three televised policy presentations from the presidential candidates on December 20, 22, and 26. These are the last polls in the run-up to the presidential election, as Taiwan entered a ten-day poll “blackout” period on January 3 ahead of the election on January 13.

China-Taiwan Weekly Update, December 28, 2023

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Lai Ching-te continues to lead in the polls. The polls that Formosa and ETtoday released between December 20 through December 24 showed that Lai has a roughly 5% lead over Kuomintang (KMT) presidential candidate Hou Yu-ih. The Poll of Polls, which is a weighted average of public election polls over the past 15 days that Taiwan News publishes, showed a similar lead for Lai as of December 25. Lai received 34.91% support, Hou received 30.49% support, and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) candidate Ko Wen-je received 20.90% support, according to the aggregated polling numbers. The support levels do not reflect significant change since last week.

China-Taiwan Weekly Update, December 21, 2023

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Lai Ching-te continues to lead in the polls. A Taiwan News Poll of Polls released on December 20 showed Lai with 34.34% support, Hou with 30.01%, and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) candidate Ko Wen-je in third place with 20.83%. The Poll of Polls is a weighted average of all public election polls in Taiwan over the past 15 days. The previous polling release on December 15 release showed that both Lai and Hou briefly reached their highest levels of support since the Poll of Polls began on September 1, with 15-day averages of 36% and 31.2% support, respectively. Ko has dropped from 21.84% on December 10.