As the United States’ pending arms sales to Taiwan renews tensions between Washington and Beijing over one of the most sensitive issues in bilateral ties, the island is reminded of the difficult geopolitical choices it will have to make when its people elect a new government and legislature next month. The corner will be even tighter for opposition leader and presidential frontrunner Tsai Ing-wen. READ MORE: Eyes on frontrunner Tsai Ing-wen as Taiwan presidential poll may mark shift in ties with Beijing Many on mainland China are already expecting bumpy cross-strait relations under the China-sceptic Tsai, once seen by Beijing as a “splittist” troublemaker. But analysts say a list of tricky questions will require the Democratic Progressive Party leader to make more careful, pragmatic calculations in managing the island’s ties with Beijing and Washington. The challenge is that China and US would both want to draw Taiwan closer Alexander Huang, analyst The need to revive the island’s stagnated economy, analysts say, will see Tsai trying not to rock the cross-strait boat. “The idea would be to continue dialogue with China, and there is no intention of turning back the clock on the numerous agreements that have been signed in recent years,” said J Michael Cole, a senior official at the Thinking Taiwan Foundation, which Tsai launched in 2012. The think tank had in recent years organised academic forums that served as a channel of communication , in particular on trade and economic issues, between Tsai and the mainland, Cole said. “There is certainly an attempt to come up with a formula that would allow the two sides to coexist,” he said. But the equation has also to take into consideration a rising discontent towards mainland China’s growing economic presence on the island, analysts say. The emergence of new political organisations such as the New Power Party – which rides on the back of the public’s frustration over the ruling Kuomintang’s pro-China approach and the DPP’s inability to keep it in check – could hamstring Tsai’s plan to keep the cross-strait status quo, said Professor Alexander Huang Chieh-cheng, of the Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies at Taiwan’s Tamkang University. “Whether she can execute her visions also depends on the parliamentary elections,” Huang said. “If the New Power Party secures enough seats, it can constrain how DPP implements its policies.” The NPP is among a number of new political parties that emerged after last year’s “sunflower” movement, a student-led campaign that forced the suspension of the ratification of a cross-strait trade pact. Tsai has said she would lessen Taiwan’s economic independence on the mainland and build more international ties. The call for economic diversification, Cole said, was derived not only from the apprehension of an over-reliance on the mainland, but also from the realisation of China’s economic slowdown. READ MORE: Taiwan opposition leader Tsai Ing-wen’s Facebook page flooded with posts from the mainland But building ties with other countries would still require a steady relationship with the mainland, said researcher Song Yann-Huei, with Taiwan’s Academis Sinica. “This would need Beijing’s tacit approval; at least it would need China to not say ‘no’.” To Beijing, Tsai is still remembered for her role as the creator of the “two-states theory” under former Taiwanese president Lee Teng-hui and for her reluctance to accept the “one China” principle. “If she insists on seeking Taiwan’s independence when she becomes the president, cross-strait relations will return to the ‘high risk’ period we saw back in the 2000s,” said Xu Shiquan of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of Taiwan Studies. Tensions between the self-governed island and the mainland soared under DPP’s Chen Shui-bian, who had repeatedly called for Taiwan’s independence, between 2000 and 2008. China insists Taiwan is an inseparable part of its sovereignty and rejects any move it deems as diplomatic intervention. Washington’s US$1.83 arms sale, announced on Wednesday, prompted protests from Beijing. Against the backdrop of heightening tensions between China and the US, analysts said Taiwan’s next leader would need to tackle a similar challenge faced by many others in the region, the need to strike a difficult balance. “One of the challenges is that China and US would both want to draw Taiwan closer, but of course Taiwan wouldn’t like to choose sides,” said Huang. READ MORE: Tsai Ing-wen’s likely victory in Taiwan means cross-strait pragmatism needed While most US presidential candidates appeared critical of Beijing, Taiwan could have more room to manoeuvre if the next American government adopted a tougher stance towards China, Cole said. But the new White House leader would still need to keep a working relationship with Beijing and would refrain from doing things that could unduly damage bilateral ties, he said. “There is a little more room for Taiwan to manoeuvre, but it’s going to be managed carefully,” Cole said.