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

  • Two men guilty in murders of Alberta family could face 75 years before parole

    Canada News CTV News
    RED DEER, Alta. - An Alberta judge is expected to hear arguments today that two men who murdered three family members and burned their bodies should spend the rest of their lives in prison without parole. Source
  • Pakistani doctor who aided hunt for bin Laden languishes in prison

    World News CTV News
    PESHAWAR, Pakistan - Shakil Afridi has languished in jail for years - since 2011, when the Pakistani doctor used a vaccination scam in an attempt to identify Osama bin Laden's home, aiding U.S. Navy Seals who tracked and killed the al Qaeda leader. Source
  • Kim Jong Nam murder trial to resume in Malaysia

    World News CTV News
    SHAH ALAM, Malaysia - Malaysia's high-profile trial of two women accused of killing the estranged half-brother of North Korea's leader resumed Monday after a seven-week recess, with witnesses taking the stand to verify the authenticity of security camera footages capturing the attack. Source
  • Trump has hands full as second year in office begins

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON - The sequel to U.S. President Donald Trump's first year in office is opening with the lead player hamstrung by a government shutdown and hunkering down amid investigations, crises and political unease. After 365 days in the Oval Office, Trump has found that his drive to deliver quickly on campaign promises has yielded to the sobering reality of governing - and the prospect of an electoral rebuke in November. Source
  • Philippine volcano explodes, authorities raise alert level

    World News CBC News
    The Philippines' most active volcano exploded thunderously Monday, sending a huge grey column of lava fragments, ash and steam into the sky and prompting authorities to warn that a violent eruption may be imminent. The noontime explosion sent superheated lava, molten rocks and steam cascading down Mount Mayon's slopes and shrouded nearby villages in darkness, said Renato Solidum of the Philippine Institute of Seismology and Volcanology and other officials. Source
  • Philippines authorities raise alert level after volcano explodes

    World News CTV News
    MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines' most active volcano has exploded thunderously and authorities warn a hazardous eruption is possible within days. Renato Solidum of the Philippines Institute of Seismology and Volcanology and other officials said Mount Mayon ejected a huge column of volcanic fragments, ash and steam into the sky around noon Monday, shrouding nearby villages in darkness. Source
  • Bangladesh, Myanmar insist repatriations of Rohingya will go smoothly

    World News CTV News
    DHAKA, Bangladesh - Both Bangladesh and Myanmar insist the repatriations of Rohingya Muslims will go smoothly, with thousands of refugees who fled their homes in terror just a few months ago crossing the border back into Myanmar and returning safely to their villages. Source
  • Rohingya repatriation to Myanmar delayed

    World News CTV News
    DHAKA, Bangladesh - The gradual repatriation of more than 650,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees back to Myanmar from Bangladesh, scheduled to begin Tuesday, has been postponed amid widespread fears that refugees would be forced to return, a Bangladesh official said Monday. Source
  • Shutdown continues as U.S. Senate talks drag on

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON - The government shutdown will extend into the workweek as the Senate appeared to inch closer to ending a partisan stalemate late Sunday but fell short of agreement. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said negotiations were still underway into the night, with a vote to break a Democratic filibuster on a short-term funding bill scheduled for noon Monday. Source
  • Tokyo holds evacuation drill to prepare for North Korean threat

    World News CTV News
    TOKYO - More than 300 people have participated in an evacuation drill in Tokyo under the scenario of an incoming North Korean ballistic missile. The drill was held at the Tokyo Dome amusement park, a subway station and a community centre downtown. Source