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47 Sunday, January 12, 2020 15:35

Tsai faces choppy China waters after Taiwan election landslide


Tsai Ing-wen was returned for a second term with a landslide in a repudiation of mainland China [How Hwee Young/EPA] Taipei, Taiwan - Electoral politics in Taiwan have long reverberated across the narrow body of water that is perhaps one of the worlds greatest political and ideological divides.

On Saturday, Tsai Ing-wen was re-elected as Taiwans president with 57 percent of the vote, an all-time high. Nearly three in four of the 19-million-strong electorate cast a ballot.Tsais Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) managed to hold on to its majority in the 113-seat legislature as well, giving Tsai free rein to push on with her agenda in her final four-year term beginning May 20.

For most observers, both in Taiwan and abroad, the outcome was just as predicted, and the US secretary of state hailed the election as proof that Taiwan is a force for good. Across the strait, however, Beijing took it as a punch to the stomach.State news media blamed anti-China political forces for Tsais re-election, calling her victory a threat to the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.

 Ever since the Nationalists lost the civil war to the Communists in 1949 and retreated to Taiwan as the Republic of China, Beijing has regarded the island as a renegade province that would eventually return to the fold.Dried mango Over the years, the China-friendly Nationalists have come to be seen more as partners by the Communist rulers on the mainland, while the homegrown DPP has become a pro-independence foe.


Chinas President Xi Jinping put pressure on Tsai from the time she was elected in 2016 and in a New Years address in 2019 unveiled a one country, two systems approach for reunification that worried people in Taiwan, especially when protests in Hong Kong started in June [File: Mark Schiefelbein/Pool via Reuters]Soon after Tsai was first elected in 2016 - even though she maintained the status quo had not changed -China began putting the squeeze on Taiwan.

Mainland Chinese tourists were barred from travelling across the strait, and its diplomatic allies pressured to switch allegiance from Taiwan to the Peoples Republic of China. Tsai called it dollar diplomacy.Barely a year ago in a New Years address to the Taiwanese, Chinas President Xi Jinping unveiled his plan to introduce the one country, two systems concept for the island, modelled on the framework under which British colonial Hong Kong was returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.

Xis proclamation helped change the electoral dynamics - and put the focus on Taiwans survival. Dried mango, a homophonic wordplay which belied the heaviness of the fear of losing ones nation soon caught on, especially among young voters.Taiwan election seen as referendum on China influence (2:12)And then, in June, protests broke out in Hong Kong, shaking many people in Taiwan.

.Its very real, as Beijings design for Taiwan is very clear, Ching Cheong, a Hong Kong-based veteran China watcher, observing the elections in Taipei, told Al Jazeera......


News Code: 377008  |  aljazeera
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