Tsai Ing-wen Swept Taiwan

Tsai Ing-wen and her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) swept Taiwan in both 2016 presidential and parliamentary election with 56.12 percent of the votes. Eric Chu of ruling Kuomintang candidate conceded his party’s defeat and wished Ms. Tsai good luck.

“The results today tell me the people want to see a government that is willing to listen to people, that is more transparent and accountable and a government that is more capable of leading us past our current challenges and taking care of those in need,” She said in news conference after the result of election was declared.

Ms. Tsai is a western educated academia and held various posts in the government before joining in politics in 2014. She is the second woman to have elected to the highest office of a country after South Korea’s Prime Minister Park Geun-hye in East Asia. Coincidentally, both president Tsai and Prime Minister Park are single.

President Tsai’s election indicates the growing feeling among people in Taiwan on their identity as Taiwanese rather than Chinese. It’s hard to say though that convincing victory of independence-leaning DPP shows the people’s preference for independence of Taiwan but it is clearly people’s expression of their identity as Taiwanese.

What will happen to cross-strait relation? Well, so far Ms. Tsai expressed her willingness to maintain the status quo and Taiwan’s ally, the US also expressed its “profound interest” in continuing cross-striate peace and stability in statement of the US State Department.

China released a statement after the Taiwan’s general election that it will “resolutely oppose any form of secessionist activities seeking Taiwan independence” and expressed its willingness to keep peace and stability across the sea and work for the “revival of Chinese nation”, a diplomatically nice way of saying for unification of Taiwan with China.

Unlike in the past election of DPP, this time China uses mild language and there is no word fire and it seems Beijing learnt from past lessons that shouting against Taiwan will only be backfired. However, in an editorial of Global Times, a Chinese nationalist news portal warned against any move for Taiwan’s independence.

“Tsai should keep in mind that if she revisit Chen’s dangerous path to cross the red line of cross-strait relations, she will meet a dead end. We hope Tsai can lead DPP out of the hallucinations of Taiwan independence, and contribute to the peaceful and common development between Taiwan and the mainland”, it was written.

Dr. Tsai has good experience of dealing with China when she was the chairwoman of the Mainland Affairs Council, the body that handles the island’s interactions with China. Political analysts predict that her approach to Beijing will be cautious and keep the stability.

“I also want to emphasize that both sides of the strait have a responsibility to find mutually acceptable means of interaction that are based on dignity and reciprocity,” said president Tsai on cross-strait relation.

Taiwan and TibetPresident Tsai also met the Dalai Lama in August 2009 when the later visited Taiwan and prayed for the victims of a catastrophic typhoon in the island nation. She also the Minister of Information and International Relation of Tibetan government in exile, Ms. Diki Chhoyang in 2012 during the Tibetan minister’s visit to East Asia.

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Palden Sonam

China Research Programme, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies

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