By Initium Media, Taiwan department

Taiwan’s presidential candidates exchanged fire in the first televised debate on Dec 26.

Taiwan presidential candidates Eric Chu (left), Tsai Ing-wen and James Soong
Taiwan presidential candidates Eric Chu (left), Tsai Ing-wen and James Soong

What exactly are their stances on issues like US pork imports, the 1992 Consensus on the “One China” principle, the “red” supply chain of high-tech components cultivated by mainland China, diplomacy and leadership? Here’s a summary of the candidates’ responses to the questions:


Should Taiwan allow imports of US pork which contains ractopamine in order to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)?
Eric Chu Food safety is the most important issue. Taiwan established different food safety standards than other countries. We should let the US know that we are opposed to importing pork produced with ractopamine.
Tsai Ing-wen We should compare with Japan and Korea’s experience. Domestic stock farming should be reorganized and modernized. To ensure food safety, the sources of all food should be made clear and rigorous examinations should be required.
James (Chu-Yu) Soong Strongly reserves his opinion on US pork, which actually means opposition. Food safety is most important. Public health should not be sacrificed for economic development.


Views on the 1992 Consensus?
Eric Chu We should stick on it, so that Taiwan and mainland can both develop peacefully, and cooperate with each other to create a win-win situation.
Tsai Ing-wen It’s an option, but not Taiwan’s only option.
James Soong The premise of it should be the recognition of the Republic of China and the autonomy of Taiwanese people.


UNIS is expanding to Taiwan while TSMC is approaching the mainland market. Facing the “red” supply chain, does Taiwan has a winning strategy?
Eric Chu We should be as open as possible. If Taiwan is going to become a free economic island, it needs to cooperate with mainland China.
Tsai Ing-wen We know that UNIS is backed by a national team. We should also support our enterprises with a national team so that they do not face the competition from national-background companies on their own.
James Soong Cross-straight cooperation is beneficial for both countries, and mutual benefits in turn promote cooperation. But we are different from the KMT in that we will end the monopoly of middlemen.


How does Taiwan develop international relationships to sustain its life?
Eric Chu The first step is for Taiwanese people to regain confidence. Practical moves would include waving Taiwan’s national flags in big sports games, joining international organizations with a position equal to other countries, visa waivers to other countries.
Tsai Ing-wen Diplomacy is based on state capacity. Taiwan should first develop its economy and democracy, retrieve people’s confidence before it can be powerful in the international arena.
James Soong Be as practical as possible. To join international organizations requires the cross-straight relationships to be peaceful and mutual-trustful.


Some tough questions on leadership
Eric Chu Does Chu have enough decision-making experience?

— I have proved my leadership capabilities as the Taoyuan County Commissioner, Vice Premier of Executive Yuan and New Taipei City Mayor. But a party consists of different generations and diverse ideas. I have made the KMT a real democratic party, in contrast to the “Ing faction” dominance of the DPP.

Tsai Ing-wen How will Tsai assume responsibility if she didn’t achieve her goals within the 4-year term of presidency?

“Ing faction” reflects the cohesiveness of the DPP. Chu is disguising his deeply fractured party as a diversified one. Leadership is the ability to integrate different dimensions of the society within a democratic system, so that people feel respected and involved.

James Soong Soong sees himself with best leadership skills, but why did he fail so many times in elections?

— I have the most experience and the best leadership skills. When I was working in the provincial government, I achieved a lot within half of a year. Throughout the elections I ran for, the KMT had party properties and the DPP were in power in many counties and cities. Thus the enterprises that supported me were frequently under tax inspection. But I didn’t complain. I hope to retrieve liberty and democratic values in Taiwan.

This article was first published in Chinese on Dec. 28, 2015 by The Initium Media, a Hong Kong-based digital media company. Asia Times has translated it with permission with editing for brevity and clarity.

Translated for Asia Times by Jiawen Guo