Former law professor, Tsai Ing-wen, 59, has become the first female President of Taiwan.
She won 60 per cent of the votes for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) defeating the opposition KMT’s Eric Chu who gathered 30 per cent, with two thirds of the votes counted on Saturday evening.
The DPP has been less enthusiastic about economic integration with China while the KMT has pursued friendly economic ties with the mainland over the last eight years in office.
India Today reports:
China regards Taiwan, an island of 23 million, as a “breakaway” province, although China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, when the KMT, losing to the Communist Party of China, fled to Taiwan.
Outgoing KMT President Ma Ying-jeou fostered closer economic ties with the mainland, with a landmark economic framework agreement boosting trade ties. Ma in 2015 held a historic meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Singapore – the first ever meeting between the heads of China and Taiwan – reflecting a warming of ties.
However, perceptions among many sections in Taiwan that the benefits were not being shared – and largely profited elites – led to growing disenchantment, culminating in “Sunflower movement” protests by students last year calling for revising what they described as opaque trade deals.
Fears of Taiwan’s identity being eroded as it fell into China’s economic orbit have also risen. Only around two dozen countries – many of which are small island states – maintain diplomatic ties amid China’s growing global clout.
In her victory speech, Tsai struck a somewhat conciliatory tone, promising stability in ties with the mainland and “consistent and predictable” cross-Strait ties.
At the same time, hinting at a different economic approach, she said she would rule with greater transparency and would protect Taiwan’s sovereignty as a priority. Describing the election as historic, Tsai said the “democratic spirit” of Taiwan was the election’s biggest significance, hinting at a contrast with one party-ruled China.
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