Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen won re-election on Saturday, in a landslide victory for her campaign calling for protecting Taiwan’s way of life after months of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and aggressive rhetoric from Beijing.
Tsai, of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), got 8.17 million votes, or 57.1 percent of the vote, while Han Kuo-yu of the Kuomintang, which promotes closer ties with China, garnered 5,5 million, or 38.6 percent, with 100 percet of votes counted, according to the Taiwan Central Election Commission.
“With each presidential election, Taiwan is showing how much we cherish our free democratic way of life and how much we cherish our nation,” Tsai said in her victory speech in Taipei.
“This election result carries an added significance. They have shown that when our sovereignty and democracy are threatened the Taiwanese will shout our determination even more loudly back.”
Han quickly conceded after Tsai reached the 8 million vote mark to secure her secod term.
“I have called Tsai and congratulated her. I did not work hard enough and failed everyone’s expectations,” he said.
Third party candidate James Soong won 4.3 percent, the commission said.
Seats in the Legislative Yuan—where Tsai’s DPP went into the election with a majority—were on Saturday’s ballot as well.
The election campaign followed half a year of protests in Hong Kong, which underscored to Taiwanese the erosion of democratic progress and civil liberties in Hong Kong under China’s “one country, two systems” model that it has held out for unification with Taiwan
Tsai’s firm rejection of increasingly aggressive rhetoric from Chinese President Xi Jinping, who called on the island to “unify” with China, by force if necessary, appears to have reversed huge losses for the DPP in local elections 14 months ago.
Tsai repeatedly said that Taiwan’s 23 million people — who are ruled under the KMT-founded 1911 Republic of China that fled to the island in 1949 after losing the civil war — have no wish to give up their sovereignty.
During the campaign, security agencies and analysts revealed how China had poured funding, fake news and disinformation into Taiwan ahead of the crucial poll.
Taiwan was part of Japan for 50 years before being handed back to the 1911 regime, and has never been ruled by the Chinese Communist Party, nor has it formed part of the People’s Republic of China.
Taiwan began a transition to democracy following the death of KMT supreme leader Chiang Ching-kuo in January 1988, starting with direct elections to the legislature in the early 1990s and culminating in the first direct election of a president, Lee Teng-hui, in 1996.Print
Originally published by Radio Free Asia.