Pro-independence leader becomes Taiwan's first female head of state

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

  • Syrian forces celebrate reclaiming of Damascus after 7 years

    World News CBC News
    Syrian government forces raised their flag over the Yarmouk Palestinian camp in Damascus on Tuesday as state media promoted what it said was the "liberation" of the last quarters of the capital from rebels and Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militants. Source
  • Apartment building involved in massive Brandon fire can hopefully be saved

    Canada News CTV News
    BRANDON, Man. -- One of the community organizations that manages apartments in a building that was damaged by a massive fire that spread through downtown Brandon, Man., over the weekend says it looks like the building can be fixed. Source
  • Report: Markle nephew warned over knife at London nightclub

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- If a tabloid report's to be believed, Meghan Markle's nephew tried to take a knife into a London nightclub after apparently taking travel tips from U.S. President Donald Trump. The Sun of London reports Tyler Dooley tried to get into a club a few hours after the wedding -- carrying a knife. Source
  • Protesters shut down commercial bridge linking Mexico, Texas

    World News CTV News
    CIUDAD VICTORIA, Mexico -- At least 200 demonstrators blocked a major commercial bridge between Mexico and Texas on Monday to protest the disappearance of dozens of people in the border city of Nuevo Laredo, snarling traffic in both directions into the night. Source
  • Palestinian Authority wants International Criminal Court to pursue investigation of Israel

    World News CBC News
    The Palestinian foreign minister asked the International Criminal Court on Tuesday to open an "immediate investigation" into alleged Israeli "crimes" committed against the Palestinian people. The step was sure to worsen the already troubled relations between the internationally backed Palestinian Authority and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government. Source
  • Flight MH370 investigator disagrees with Canadian author on plane's disappearance

    World News CBC News
    The director of a seabed hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on Tuesday disagreed with a new book's conclusion that the pilot likely flew the plane beyond the search area to deliberately sink it in unexplored depths of the Indian Ocean. Source
  • 10 dead, including a nurse, from Nipah virus in India

    World News CBC News
    A rare virus spread by fruit bats, which can cause flu-like symptoms and brain damage, has killed 10 people in southern India, health officials said on Tuesday, with at least two more cases being monitored. Infectious disease outbreaks can be a challenge in the world's second most populous country, where infection control and surveillance are weak, leading to hundreds of deaths annually from diseases such as mosquito-borne dengue. Source
  • Ousted Malaysia PM formally questioned about looting of state fund

    World News CBC News
    Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was grilled for more than four hours Tuesday over a corruption scandal that could lead to criminal charges against him, while the country's new anti-graft chief said investigations into the case were suppressed by intimidation during Najib's rule. Source
  • Blue carbon is the billion-dollar resource you've never heard of

    Canada News CBC News
    The Bay of Fundy may soon be known for more than its powerful tides. Instead, the plants and mud in the coastal ecosystem have the potential to hold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of carbon-offset credits. Source
  • Toronto police arrest man suspected in transit stabbings

    Canada News CTV News
    Toronto police have arrested a man alleged to have stabbed two people while using the city's transit system. The first incident happened early Sunday morning on a Toronto Transit Commission bus in the city's west end. Source