Once a dominant political force, Taiwan’s main opposition party lost the last two presidential elections in large part because it has promoted closer ties with China. Now, faced with voters who have been alarmed by Beijing’s aggression toward the island, the Kuomintang is placing its hopes on a new type of candidate: a popular local leader with a blank slate on the thorny question of China.
The Kuomintang, or Nationalist Party, on Wednesday nominated as its presidential candidate Hou Yu-ih, a 66-year-old, two-term mayor of New Taipei City and former police chief who has tried to strike a middle ground within the Kuomintang on the island’s relations with China. Mr. Hou launched his bid with a rallying call.
“We must unite for victory, especially at this stage when our country is facing fierce and dangerous international circumstances,” Mr. Hou said following the announcement of his nomination.
His candidacy sets the stage for a tight race next January that could chart a new course for Taiwan in the big-power standoff between China and the United States and reshape tensions around the Taiwan Strait, one of the world’s most dangerous flash points. Under the seven-year leadership of President Tsai Ing-wen of the governing Democratic Progressive Party, Taiwan has come under intensifying military and diplomatic pressure from China and pushed back by bolstering ties with the United States.