Brown Professor of Political Science and Assistant Dean for Educational Policy Shelley Rigger testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Asia Subcommittee on the future of relations between the United States and Taiwan.
The panel followed the recent election in Taiwan in which the opposition party's Tsai Ying-wen won the presidency.
In addition to Rigger, members of the panel included Susan A. Thornton, U.S. Department of State; Randall Schriver, Project 2049 Institute; and Bonnie Glaser,
Center for Strategic and International Studies.
In her statement, Rigger noted:
Taiwan's January 16, 2016, elections were an important watershed in the island's democratic development. For the first time, the Kuomintang (KMT, or Nationalist Party), lost control of both branches of the national government when its long-time opponent, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), won the presidency and 68 out of 113 legislative seats.
The DPP has won national elections only twice before. In 2000, the DPP candidate Chen Shui-bian was elected president in a three-way race, but the KMT and its allies retained a legislative majority throughout presidency, including after his reelection in 2004....
Now that the DPP is about to return to power -- and without a KMT legislative majority to check it -- questions are arising as to whether we are about to enter another era of tension in the Taiwan Strait. Will the new president, Tsai Ying-wen, take after Chen, her predecessor? Will the DPP, emboldened by its landslide victories and legislative majority, attempt to realize its long-dormant ambition for formal independence? If so, how should the U.S. respond?