Taiwanese reelected President Tsai Ing-wen by a landslide on Jan. 11 in a stern rebuke that could fuel further tension with China.
Anti-government unrest in Chinese-ruled Hong Kong took center stage during a campaign in which Tsai held up Taiwan as a beacon of hope for protesters in the former British colony and rejected Beijing’s offer of a “one country, two systems” model.
China claims Taiwan as its sacred territory, to be taken by force if needed, a threat President Xi Jinping reiterated a year ago while saying he preferred a peaceful solution.
“One country, two systems,” which gives a high degree of autonomy, much as Beijing uses in Hong Kong, has never been popular in Taiwan and is even less so after months of protests in Hong Kong.
China made itself even more unpopular in Taiwan in the runup to the election by twice sailing its newest aircraft carrier through the sensitive Taiwan Strait, denounced by Taipei as an effort at military intimidation.
“We hope that the Beijing authorities can understand that a democratic Taiwan with a government chosen by the people will not give in to threats and intimidation,” Tsai told reporters.
Beijing needs to understand the will of Taiwan’s people, and that only Taiwan’s people can decide its future, she added, repeating her firm opposition to “one country, two systems.”
Tsai beat her main opponent Han Kuo-yu of the Kuomintang party, which favors close ties with China, by more than 2.6 million votes. She won almost 8.2 million votes in total, more than any Taiwan president since the island held its first direct presidential election in 1996. (Reuters)