In Taiwan’s high-stakes elections, China is the loser (Ellen Ioanes, Jan 14, 2024, Vox)

Taiwan under Tsai shored up its relationship with the United States, as well as creating closer ties with Japan and European nations; all three candidates emphasized the importance of the US-Taiwan relationship, with little daylight on their foreign policy.

Where Lai broke away from his competitors, and particularly Hou, was in his framing of Friday’s election as a choice “between democracy and autocracy,” as David Sacks, a fellow for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, said in a panel discussion Wednesday.

All the candidates indicated that they would continue Taiwan’s defense partnership with the US and would increase the island’s defense budget, which currently stands at $19.1 billion, or 2.6 percent of GDP, indicating, as Sacks said, broad agreement that relying on dialogue with Beijing or Xi’s “goodwill” isn’t enough to keep China from trying to take the island by force. While Lai signaled that he’ll raise that percentage, it’s not yet clear by how much.