SHANGHAI - Taiwan's 9-in-1 Elections on Saturday will focus on city and county administrators, but they will nevertheless have an inevitable impact on exchanges across the Taiwan Strait, Chinese scholars cautioned.
Yan Anlin, the head of the Institute for Taiwan, Hong Kong & Macao Studies of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said that even though cross-strait ties are not at stake in the race for mayors, magistrates and council members, the results will have an impact on ties between Taiwan and China.
He singled out the "1992 Consensus" in particular, the understanding between Beijing and Taipei that there is only one China, and the mainland and Taiwan are parts of China, but each side is free to define what China means.
Citing Taipei, the capital, and Taichung, the largest city in central Taiwan, where the Beijing friendly ruling Kuomintang's candidates are fighting an uphill battle against their rivals, Yan said in no uncertain manner: "To be frank, it will have considerable impact on cross-strait ties."
Should the KMT's Sean Lien, whose party accepts the consensus, win in Taipei, that city's exchanges with Shanghai can continue to progress on the current basis, he said.
But he warned a victory for Lien's rival, independent Ko Wen-je, who is not a DPP member but has dodged his position on the "1992 Consensus," "will affect exchanges between Shanghai and Taipei and the overall ties between the two sides of the strait."
Sheng Jiuyuan, the deputy chief of the Taiwan Studies Center under the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, echoed Yan's view, asking if Ko, who claims he does not know what the "1992 Consensus" refers to, is elected, "how can the leaders of the two cities exchange visits in the future under such circumstances?"
In Sheng's view, the elections are a precursor for Taiwan's 2016 presidential election.
Bao Chengke, an expert on cross-strait affairs at East China Normal University in Shanghai, said if candidates who accept the "1992 Consensus" are elected in Taiwan, it will be a plus for the cross-strait economic and city exchanges.
Despite the scholar's comments, candidates in Saturday's election have largely not talked about China, focusing on matters of local governance instead.
Days earlier, China's Taiwan Affairs Office said it would not show support for any individual candidates in Taiwan.