Taiwan’s local elections of 2014 were held on November 29 and elected 6 municipal mayors and 16 county magistrates. The KMT (Kuomintang, Nationalist Party), Taiwan’s ruling party, won only 6 out of the 22 local seats and gained just 40.7 percent of the vote. Jiang Yi-huah, Taiwan’s premier, resigned after election. President Ma Ying-jeou also stepped down as the chairman of the KMT to take responsibility for his party’s losses in the elections. The Democratic Progress Party (DPP), Taiwan’s opposing party, won a landslide over the KMT and raised the prospects of the party’s victory in Taiwan’s upcoming 2016 presidential election.

The 2014 elections, being local in nature, did not touch upon the South China Sea issue or Taiwan’s position on the U-shaped line. However, since February 2014, Taiwan has received increasing calls from foreign countries to clarify its intentions with respect to the 1947 line and its sovereignty and maritime claims in the South China Sea. It is under pressure to bring these into accordance with international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

In September 2014, Parris Chang, Taiwan’s former National Security Council deputy secretary-general, stated that if the DPP wins the 2016 presidential election, it would seriously consider abandoning its claims to the entire South China Sea that is based on the U-shaped line. In response to this statement, an op-ed article published by the Global Times warned that “Taiwan abandoning nine-dash line in South China Sea would be disastrous.”

Particularly if the South China Sea arbitral tribunal makes its ruling in 2015, it can be expected that the South China Sea dispute, Taiwan’s position on the U-shaped line, and cross-strait maritime cooperation would become important issues to be debated by presidential candidates from the KMT and DPP when the campaign begins in 2015.

About Yann-huei Song

Yann-huei Song is a research fellow in the Institute of European and American Studies, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan. He has broad academic interests covering ocean law and policy studies, maritime security, and disputes in the East and South China Seas.