The historic visit between Xi Jinping and Ma Ying-jeou in November 2015 cemented the legacies of both leaders, but a projected Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) victory in Taiwan’s January 16, 2016 elections could introduce new challenges and strains into cross-Strait relations. In this podcast with Paul Haenle, recorded during her visit to Beijing as Carnegie-Tsinghua’s fifteenth Distinguished Speaker, Taiwan expert Shelley Rigger assesses the upcoming elections in Taiwan, the motivations behind the Xi-Ma meeting, changes in the DPP since 2000, and reasons for optimism about the future of cross-Strait ties.

Rigger asserted that the Xi-Ma meeting was meant to highlight the legacy of cooperation built by the two sides over the past several years. She said that Xi’s openness to this meeting could provide an opportunity for officials and scholars to “think outside the box” on how to promote good ties in the future. In addition, Rigger explained that the DPP and its presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen want to “see cross-Strait relations sustained in a stable fashion.” Although there will certainly be challenges, these are all reasons that the international community can remain somewhat optimistic about cross-Strait relations in the coming years.​

Shelley Rigger 

Shelley Rigger is the Brown Professor of East Asian Politics, chair of Chinese Studies, and assistant dean for educational policy at Davidson College​.

Paul Haenle

Paul Haenle is the director of the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy. Prior to joining Carnegie, he served from June 2007 to June 2009 as the director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolian Affairs on the National Security Council staffs of former president George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.