Taiwan’s main opposition party had pinned its hopes of winning the recent presidential election on convincing voters it would serve their interests, not China’s. But the Kuomintang’s (KMT) central pitch was undercut by one of its own just days before polls opened.

"You can never fight a war with the mainland. You can never win,” former President Ma Ying-jeou told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle. The comments by Ma, who remains a senior figure within the KMT, indicated Taiwan is too powerless to stand up to Beijing, undermining the party’s messaging.

Hou Yu-ih, the KMT’s candidate, immediately distanced himself from Ma, saying their views "differed.” The former president was also reportedly not invited to the party’s election night rally.