Taiwan pro-independence leader wins presidential election

Written by Martin Banks on 20 January 2020 in News
News

A top Taiwanese diplomat has warned China to heed the outcome of his country’s presidential elections.

President Tsai Ing-wen, leader of the Democratic Progressive Party, celebrates winning re-election in Taipei | Photo credit: Press Association


In the poll, the people of Taiwan overwhelmingly voted to renew the mandate of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and President Tsai Ing-wen for another four years, in an election that saw the incumbent win more votes than any other presidential candidate in Taiwan’s history.

She swept to victory despite the economy slowing down and relations with mainland China at their worst for decades. It was the 15th presidential election in Taiwan and its tenth parliamentary election.


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President Tsai Ing-Wen is a pro-Washington politician, attracting popular consent for her status-quo position, although less successful domestic policies have caused her popularity to decline.

The incumbent DPP has long held that Taiwan is an independent country, while the opposition KMT (Chinese Nationalist Party) insists that Taiwan is an inseparable part of China.

Speaking to The Parliament Magazine, Harry Tseng, Taipei’s Representative to the EU and Belgium, welcomed the outcome of the elections, saying, “We want good relations with China but not at the expense of our sovereignty”.

"The results of the election sent a clear signal to China about the determination of Taiwanese people for their country to remain independent" Harry Tseng, Taipei’s Representative to the EU and Belgium

“The Chinese regime has a heavy-handed approach to relations with Taiwan and has made it clear that it will not change its ‘One China’ policy.”

China has scores of missiles directed at Taiwan but, when asked if the results made the prospect of Chinese military action against Taiwan more likely, he said, “No, I do not think they will do anything stupid.”

He added, though, that “The results of the election sent a clear signal to China about the determination of Taiwanese people for their country to remain independent.”

His comments coincide with the signing on Wednesday of a key trade agreement between the U.S and China, which is expected to lead to a thaw in the so-called trade wars between the two sides.

Meanwhile, BusinessEurope, the body representing European business at EU level, has called on the EU to “reconsider how it engages” with China.

"The consolidation of China’s state-led economy over market-oriented reforms and the difficulty in achieving much-needed WTO reform have led to an imbalance in the global level playing field" BusinessEurope President Pierre Gattaz

The group has published a strategy paper on the EU’s economic relationship with China, saying European business wants to build a “stronger and fairer” economic relationship, but warning that “systemic challenges prevent European companies from untapping this economic potential.”

The obstacles created by China’s state-led economy lead to market distortions in China, the EU and in third countries, says BusinessEurope.

“We call on the EU to reconsider how it engages with China, so that it can seize the opportunities and mitigate the distortions and challenges created by China’s state-led economy,” read the statement.

BusinessEurope President Pierre Gattaz added, “China and Europe have benefited tremendously from China’s accession to the WTO in 2001. But in recent years, the consolidation of China’s state-led economy over market-oriented reforms and the difficulty in achieving much-needed WTO reform have led to an imbalance in the global level playing field.”

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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