Taiwan Elects Its 1st Female President

Jan 17, 2016

Pro-independence opposition candidate Tsai Ing-wen has been elected Taiwan's first female president, setting an uncertain course for future relations with China.

BBC News had this to say:

Ms Tsai, 59, leads the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) that wants independence from China.

In her victory speech, she vowed to preserve the status quo in relations with China, adding Beijing must respect Taiwan's democracy and both sides must ensure there are no provocations.

China sees the island as a breakaway province - which it has threatened to take back by force if necessary.

In her speech, Ms Tsai hailed a "new era" in Taiwan and pledged to co-operate with other political parties on major issues.

The will of the Taiwanese people would be the basis for relations with China, Ms Tsai said.

"I also want to emphasize that both sides of the Taiwanese Strait have a responsibility to find mutually acceptable means of interaction that are based on dignity and reciprocity.

"We must ensure that no provocations or accidents take place," Ms Tsai said, warning that "any forms of suppression will harm the stability of cross-strait relations".

She thanked the US and Japan for their support and vowed Taiwan would contribute to peace and stability in the region.

Ms Tsai had a commanding lead in the vote count when Eric Chu of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) admitted defeat.

Mr Chu congratulated Tsai Ing-wen and announced he was quitting as KMT head. Taiwan's Premier Mao Chi-kuo also resigned.

The election came just months after a historic meeting between the leaders of Taiwan and China.

However, the flagging economy as well as Taiwan's relationship with China both played a role in the voters' choice, correspondents say.

The KMT has been in power for most of the past 70 years and has overseen improved relations with Beijing - Ms Tsai's is only the second-ever victory for the DPP.

The first was by pro-independence advocate Chen Shui-bian; during his time as president between 2000 and 2008 tensions with China escalated.

The election result marks a turning point in Taiwan's democracy and relationship with China.

The DPP win means the island is moving towards a political system in which voters prefer to transfer power from one party to another, ending decades of mostly KMT rule.

That could make relations with China uncertain, because unlike the KMT, the DPP favors Taiwan's independence and does not recognize the Republic of China (Taiwan's official name) and the People's Republic of China as part of "one China".

The KMT was the Communists' bitter enemy during the civil war. It fled to Taiwan after losing the civil war and its charter and leaders still favor eventual unification. It remains China's best hope - and perhaps only hope - of peacefully reunifying with Taiwan

Beijing has been closely watching the elections to gauge Taiwanese people's sentiments and what those sentiments will mean for its goal of reunifying with the last inhabited territory - following Hong Kong and Macau - that it feels was unfairly snatched from it by Japan as a colony in 1895, and then ruled separately by the KMT after the civil war.

Ms Tsai, a former scholar, has said she wants to "maintain [the] status quo" with China

It will be interesting to see how things progress with China and Taiwan. They have always had an interesting relationship and this election will have a huge impact on the relations between these two countries.

 

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Read the full story at bbc.com.