Pro-independence leader claims win in Taiwan vote

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Pro-independence party candidate Tsai Ing-wen claimed victory in Taiwan's presidential election late Saturday to become the island's first female head of state.

See Full Article

The election took place amid concerns that Taiwan's economy is under threat from China and broad opposition to Beijing's demands for political unification.

Tsai said the election outcome was a further show of how ingrained democracy has become on the self-governing island. The results showed that Taiwanese people wish for a government "steadfast in protecting this nation's sovereignty," she said at her campaign headquarters.

By Saturday night, she had more than 56 per cent of votes counted, while the Nationalists' Eric Chu had 31 per cent, with a third-party candidate trailing in the distance.

Chu earlier conceded the massive loss and resigned from leadership of the China-friendly party that has governed Taiwan for eight years. Outgoing President Ma Ying-jeou is constitutionally barred from another term.

Tsai said one of her top priorities would be to unite Taiwan in order to gain strength and respect from international society. "Only when we grow stronger will we be able to gain respect and protect our people and our democratic way of life," Tsai said, referring to Taiwan by its official name, the Republic of China.

She said she would correct the policy mistakes of the past, but warned that: "The challenges that Taiwan faces will not disappear in one day."

Tsai pledged to maintain the "status quo of peace and stability" in relations with China. She said both sides have a responsibility to find a mutually acceptable means of interacting, while adding that Taiwan's international space must be respected. Provocations and pressure from China would destabilize relations, she said.

The newly election legislature will convene next month, while Tsai's inauguration is scheduled for May.

Addressing a thin crowd of a few hundred supporters at his campaign headquarters, the Nationalists' Chu said: "We failed. The Nationalist Party lost the elections. We didn't work hard enough." He followed his concession speech by making a long bow.

Reflecting unease over a slowdown in Taiwan's once-mighty economy, undeclared voter Hsieh Lee-fung said providing opportunities to the next generation was the most important issue.

"Economic progress is related closely to our leadership, like land reform and housing prices. People aren't making enough money to afford homes," Hsieh said.

Tsai has proposed to open 200,000 units of affordable housing in eight years. Her party suggested in May that Taiwan's laws change to raise wages and cut work weeks from 84 per two weeks to 40 in one.

Her win will introduce new uncertainty in the complicated relationship between Taiwan and mainland China, which claims the island as its own territory and threatens to use force if it declares formal independence.

"Taiwan and China need to keep some distance," said Willie Yao, a computer engineer voting in Taipei who said he backed Tsai. "The change of president would mean still letting Taiwanese make the decision."

Tsai has refused to endorse the principle that Taiwan and China are parts of a single nation to be unified eventually. Beijing has made that its baseline for continuing negotiations that have produced a series of pacts on trade, transport and exchanges.

Observers say China is likely to adopt a wait-and-see approach, but might use diplomatic and economy pressure if Tsai is seen as straying too far from its unification agenda.

Taiwan was a Japanese colony from 1885 to 1945 and split again from China amid civil war in 1949.

Chu was a late entry in the race after the party ditched its original candidate, Hung Hsiu-chu, whose abrasive style was seen as alienating voters.

China has largely declined to comment on the polls, although its chief official for Taiwan affairs this month warned of potential major challenges in the relationship in the year ahead.

Tsai supporters appeared confident that ties with China would weather a change in government.

"As long as Tsai doesn't provoke the other side, it's OK," said former newspaper distribution agent Lenex Chang, who attended Tsai's rally. "If mainland China democratizes someday, we could consider a tie-up," he added.

Candidates from across the political spectrum sounded a rare note of unity Saturday after a teenage pop star posted a video online apologizing for having waved the Taiwanese flag on a South Korean TV program.

Sixteen-year-old Chou Tzu-yu, who performs under the name Tzuyu, had apparently been compelled to apologize after her South Korean management company suspended her activities in China for fear of offending nationalist sentiments on the mainland.

Ma, Tsai and Chu all condemned what they described as the bullying of a young girl.

Associated Press writer Ralph Jennings contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Indonesian president vows to rebuild after deadly quake

    World News CTV News
    TRINGGADING, Indonesia - Indonesia's president travelled to areas devastated by a magnitude 6.5 earthquake and vowed that torn-apart communities would be rebuilt. Stopping Friday morning at a collapsed mosque in Tringgading not far from the quake's epicenter, Joko "Jokowi" Widodo gave money to people who had lost family members. Source
  • Lethal mistake leads to harrowing ambush in Mosul

    World News CTV News
    IRBIL, Iraq -- As Iraqi forces advanced toward the al-Salam hospital in Mosul earlier this week, encountering only light resistance from Islamic State fighters, commanders decided to seize the facility instead of sweeping the neighbourhoods along the road leading to it. Source
  • Bolivian official breaks silence about air crash in Colombia

    World News CTV News
    LA PAZ, Bolivia -- A Bolivian aviation official who signed off on the flight plan for a chartered aircraft that crashed in the Andes is breaking her silence and accusing her bosses of trying to stage a coverup. Source
  • Official accuses bosses of cover up in crash that wiped out soccer team

    World News Toronto Sun
    LA PAZ, Bolivia — A Bolivian official who signed off on the flight plan for a chartered aircraft that crashed in the Andes is breaking her silence and accusing her bosses of trying to stage a coverup. Source
  • Chris Hadfield mourns the loss of 'class act' and inspiration, John Glenn

    Canada News CBC News
    Col. Chris Hadfield — Canada's most recognizable former astronaut — says the death of his idol and colleague John Glenn is tragic. "He was absolutely one of the inspiring figures that dictated the life that I chose to follow," Hadfield told CBC Calgary News at 6 on Thursday, after news of Glenn's passing surfaced earlier in the day. Source
  • Biden calls on Trudeau to defend international ’rules of road’

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    OTTAWA - U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to be a defender of the international “rules of the road” to help shepherd the world through a period of deep uncertainty. Biden delivered that message in a stirring speech at a state dinner in his honour in Ottawa on Thursday night, in which he singled out the fight against climate change as the most important issue of this generation. Source
  • Canadians react to the new Viola Desmond $10 banknote

    Canada News CTV News
    A black Nova Scotian woman who refused to be ousted from a whites-only section of a segregated movie theater will grace the front of Canada’s new $10 banknote in 2018. The announcement by Finance Minister Bill Morneau on Thursday marks the first time a Canadian woman will be immortalized on the front of her country’s currency. Source
  • 'Frustrating' backlog of refugee applications will likely get longer as federal targets drop

    Canada News CBC News
    Spurred on by this year's fast-tracking of displaced Syrians, nearly 30,000 more people are in line to come to Canada as refugees — but they may be in for a wait as the total number of refugees to be resettled in the coming year is much lower than this year's target. Source
  • Mexico finds 110 suffocating migrants in trailer after crash

    World News CTV News
    FILE - In this July 29, 2010 file photo, deportees pray as they gather for breakfast provided by the Kino Border Initiative in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) Source
  • Quebec Algonquins file title claim to downtown Ottawa

    Canada News CBC News
    In a move to block a treaty between the Algonquins of Ontario and the federal and Ontario governments, a group of Quebec Algonquins have filed an Aboriginal title claim for lands in downtown Ottawa, including Parliament Hill, the Supreme Court of Canada and Lebreton Flats. Source