Tsai wins Taiwan election as experts predict policy adjustment

By Zhang Hui Source:Globaltimes.cn Published: 2016-1-16 19:10:23

Taiwan elected its first female and independence-leaning candidate as its new leader Saturday night, which might set back hard-earned cross-Straits relations, observers said. 

The poll showed that Tsai Ing-wen, the chairwoman of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), won the election over Eric Chu Li-luan, the candidate of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) and James Soong Chu-yu, People First Party candidate. 

Chu declared his failure in Taiwan's leadership election on Saturday evening, and announced that he would take responsibility for the failure and resign from the post of KMT chairman.

More than 15,000 polling stations across the island stayed open from 8 am to 4 pm Saturday. 

Tsai has been avoiding public acknowledgement of the 1992 Consensus, the political foundation for cross-Straits relations focused on the One-China policy. She repeatedly said she would maintain the "status quo" with the mainland.  

“Tsai’s rise to power will likely set back hard-earned cross-Straits relations, which could worsen the island’s flagging export-dependent economy, and narrow its diplomatic space in the international community,” Wang Jianmin, a cross-Straits scholar at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), told the Global Times.

In December, Ma Xiaoguang, spokesperson of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, warned of the dangers of deviating from the 1992 Consensus, saying that “the ship featuring peaceful development of cross-Strait relations will encounter rough seas, or could even capsize.”

"However, cross-Straits ties will not strained immediately after Tsia’s win, given the improved and relatively stable relations last year,” Chan Yi-Hsin, an expert at Tamkang University in New Taipei City, told the Global Times.

Last year saw a milestone meeting between President Xi Jinping and Taiwan’s leader Ma Ying-jeou, the first between leaders of the two sides since 1949. A hotline between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan was officially launched in December. 

The mainland and Taiwan will undergo an adjustment period before May 20, the day Tsai is scheduled to be sworn into office, to seek common ground, said Chang Ya-chung, an international relations professor at National Taiwan University.

Tsai’s leadership will face great challenges if she does not soften her independence-leaning attitude in the long run, experts warned. 

If cross-Straits ties sour, Taiwan’s export-dependent economy, which about 40 percent of which goes to mainland, will face a downturn, experts said.

Responding to the Taiwan elections, The State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office said on Saturday that the mainland won't interfere in Taiwan's elections but will maintain its focus on cross-Straits relations.

Posted in: HK/Macao/Taiwan

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