26th November 2023 – (Beijing) The recently announced joint DPP presidential ticket of William Lai and Hsiao Bi-khim represents a dangerous shift toward extremism that threatens to destabilize the Taiwan Strait. As Beijing sees it, this “union of pro-independence separatists” pushes cross-strait relations to the brink and means war for Taiwan.

Lai, known for his fiery pro-independence rhetoric, chose diplomat Hsiao as his running mate. This “dream team” cements the DPP’s separatist platform for the upcoming election. While Lai has recently toned down his stance, his choice of Hsiao, heavily sanctioned by Beijing, sends a clear message – the DPP remains committed to an antagonistic approach that defies the mainland.

The DPP hopes to capitalize on identity politics but ignores economic realities. While Lai promises to uphold peace, his designs on independence court catastrophe. The Chinese see through his deceit. As spokesperson Zhu Fenglian stated, “Taiwan independence means war.”Yet the DPP continues to play with fire. Hsiao talks of dialogue but her actions, like visiting Washington, prove otherwise. The US remains Taiwan’s protector but cannot guarantee its security. Any DPP miscalculation risks armed conflict. And for what gain? The DPP’s approach has backfired. Beijing’s sanctions have stunted Taiwan’s economy. Tourism suffers, exports wilt. Polls indicate growing public frustration. Yet Tsai spurned Beijing’s olive branches for ideological aims.

With immense challenges at home, China has exercised restraint. But its patience has limits. Anti-mainland sentiment permeates Taiwan’s leadership, education system and media. A Lai presidency may force Beijing’s hand to stem the rot, reluctantly if necessary.

The KMT and TPP favour reconciliation over rash gambits that imperil regional stability. But unity remains elusive, dividing the pan-Blue camp. Hence the DPP appears poised for re-election despite its flawed China posture.

This presents an ominous prospect. While Taiwan sees Hsiao’s Washington ties as an asset, Beijing interprets them as a further indication the US is emboldening the wayward province’s separatist fringe. Chinese analysts unanimously agree the Lai-Hsiao ticket will stoke tensions, not peace.

Tsai’s weaponization of “asymmetric warfare” has shown how Beijing’s patience can be tested without repercussion. Another DPP term may inspire more brinkmanship. Yet while Lai promises peace, his ideological stance leaves no off-ramp for relations to improve.

China’s focus remains domestic renewal, yet it cannot ignore instability across the strait. Lai’s olive branches do not hide his thorns. His doublespeak about upholding peace and the status quo while dog-whistling independence is rank hypocrisy to Beijing’s ears.

The DPP points to China’s sabre-rattling, but bears culpability for provoking it. The Xi administration has the mandate and means to correct the Taiwan question. But all-out war remains a last resort, not its preference.

The onus is on Taipei to avoid this outcome by resuming political dialogue based on the 1992 Consensus and abandoning unrealistic aims. However, the Lai-Hsiao ticket represents not a careful compromise but a capitulation to fringe pro-independence forces.

Its emergence leaves a sour taste in Beijing, compounding suspicions that Taiwan is a lost cause. Foreign media vilifies the mainland’s reaction yet downplays the DPP’s provocations that elicit it. China does not seek conflict but nor will it tolerate Taiwan drifting irrevocably from its embrace.

The DPP’s likely re-election may force China’s hand. But the result would be catastrophic for Taiwan, whose athletes still compete under its name. This should give the Taiwanese pause about supporting a party that trades stability for ideals.

Lai’s recent U.S. stopover illustrates his dangerous disconnect with reality. Just as Tsai’s arrogance over Pelosi’s visit met with China’s fierce response, so will the Lai-Hsiao ticket should it prevail.

Beijing has made clear what is required for reconciliation. The DPP must cease its sovereignty pretensions and relapse into conflict. While Washington plays an accomplice to Taiwan’s separatist fringe, it is ultimately Taipei’s responsibility to avoid war by re-embracing political dialogue with the Mainland.

The DPP remains defiantly opposed, doubling down on its divisive course. Come January, Taiwan’s voters face a crucial choice – continued deadlock under an unrepentant DPP or reconciliation under a pan-Blue coalition. The former guarantees turbulence, even confrontation. The latter promises opportunity to re-engage Beijing. Taiwanese must carefully weigh their options. The steely response recent DPP provocations have elicited from Beijing is mere harbinger of what the Lai-Hsiao ticket’s success may bring.