Redefining cross-strait relations: Taiwan elections 2020

With the Taiwan elections approaching next January 2020, there grows a stirring, yet precarious, potential of a redefining shift in the nation’s foreign policy.

Kuomintang (KMT) and presidential hopeful, Han Kuo-yu, will be campaigning to warm relations with China and open up economic cooperation with its larger neighbour. On the contrary, the incumbent Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) president since 2016, Tsai Ing-wen, will be looking to push her case for continuing political and economic independence from the PRC. In the background of enduring volatility in the region, the outcome of this election is destined to be a significant benchmark for the status of the cross-strait relations.

Listen to the podcast: Redefining cross-strait relations

Event recorded on 26 November 2019.


Christopher R. Hughes is a Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), where he also served as Director of the Asia Research Centre from 2002 to 2005. His PhD (from the LSE) on the topic of Taiwan and Chinese Nationalism was awarded the British International Studies Association best thesis of the year prize for 1995. He has since published widely on Chinese nationalism and regional politics in the Asia Pacific. He teaches specialist courses in the International Politics of the Asia Pacific, Chinese Foreign and Security Policy and Foreign Policy Analysis.

Gideon Rachman is the chief foreign affairs commentator for the Financial Times, where he authors a weekly column on foreign affairs and feature articles. Before joining the Financial Times in 2006, he was a senior editor and correspondent for The Economist and BBC World Service presenter. He has worked as a foreign correspondent in Washington, Brussels, and Bangkok, and is the author of Zero-Sum World, and Easternization which was launched at the LSE in 2017.

Michael Reilly is a former career diplomat with over 30 years’ experience, principally handling UK policy towards East and South East Asia, Michael Reilly’s final Foreign and Commonwealth Office appointment was as Director of the British Trade and Cultural office in Taipei from 2005-2009, the de facto British ambassador to Taiwan. Upon leaving Taiwan he joined BAE Systems, initially as Director, Far East, before going on to serve as the company’s Chief Representative in China, based in Beijing, from 2011 to 2014. Michael Reilly retired from BAE Systems in 2015, since then he has pursued academic research, principally on the EU’s relations with Taiwan, but also on Taiwan’s railway history. In 2016 and 2019, he was a Visiting Fellow at Academia Sinica in Taipei under the auspices of the Taiwan Fellowship programme of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of China (Taiwan). His latest book, The Implications of Brexit for East Asia, co-edited with David W. F. Huang, was published in summer 2018. He has a Ph.D. in Economic History from the University of Liverpool and a diploma in Korean from Yonsei University in Seoul.

William Callahan is Professor of International Relations at The London School of Economics and Political Science. His essay “The Politics of Walls: Barriers, Flows and the Sublime,” won the Review of International Studies best article (2018). Callahan also makes documentary films, and his latest film “Great Walls: From Ideology to Experience” (2019) is being shown at universities, academic conferences, and film festivals. Callahan’s next book, Sensible Politics: Visualizing International Relations will be published by Oxford University Press in early 2020.