President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan won the presidential election with more than 8.17 million votes in the presidential election held on Saturday (January 11), becoming the elected president of Taiwan with the most votes since the beginning of the presidential election. Tsai Ing-wen’s main opponent, the Kuomintang presidential candidate, Han Yu, received only more than 5 million votes, which is more than 2 million votes behind Tsai Ing-wen.
After the results of the general election became clear, the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council reiterated its firm opposition to any form of Taiwan independence. At the same time, the official Global Times warned that “Tsai Ing-wen’s re-election will increase the uncertainty of the situation in the Taiwan Strait.
Taiwan’s Central Election Commission announced on Saturday night local time that the counting of votes had been completed, and the presidential and vice presidential elections had a turnout rate of 74.0%. The election committee said that Saturday’s general election went smoothly without major violations.
US Secretary of State Pompeo issued a statement congratulating President Tsai Ing-wen on his re-election and praised Taiwan for setting a democratic model. Secretary of State Pompeo said: “The United States thanks President Tsai for her leadership in developing a strong partnership with the United States and praised her for persisting in maintaining stability across the Taiwan Strait in the face of relentless pressure.”
Through its spokesperson, Ma Xiaoguang, the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, which is in charge of cross-strait affairs, said that China’s policy toward Taiwan University is clear and consistent. China “resolutely opposes any form of’Taiwan independence’ separatist conspiracy and actions.”
Saturday’s general election not only touched on many livelihood issues on the island of Taiwan, but also directly related to the future of Taiwan and the direction of cross-strait relations.
The continuous large-scale protests in Hong Kong since June last year and China’s increasing pressure on Taiwan to promote cross-strait issues have become a central issue that Taiwan voters are more concerned about this time. Analysts generally predict that if Tsai Ing-wen is elected, cross-strait relations are expected to become more tense.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said at a press conference after the election that the results of the election demonstrated the will of the people of Taiwan to reject one country, two systems. Tsai Ing-wen stressed the need to continue to “strengthen national security and protect our sovereignty.” She said that the results of this election revealed an important significance, that is, when Taiwan’s sovereignty and democracy are under loud threats, the people of Taiwan will shout out their persistence in a louder voice.
Tsai Ing-wen called on the international community to regard Taiwan as an indispensable member. She said that “for every country, Taiwan is a partner.”
A report in the New York Times on Saturday said that Taiwanese voters used their votes to sternly refute China’s growing authoritarianism.
Han Yu’s popularity increased when he was elected mayor of Kaohsiung in 2018, but his popularity has begun to decline in recent months, and he is considered to be less tough than Tsai Ing-wen on cross-strait relations.
Han Yu said in his acceptance speech on Saturday that the election failure was “not enough personal effort, letting down everyone’s expectations”, and at the same time called on Tsai Ing-wen to “really single-minded” so that Taiwan can live and work in peace.
China’s official Global Times warned in a social commentary on Saturday that “Being mad should be the motto of Tsai Ing-wen and the Democratic Progressive Party”. The editorial said that “Tsai Ing-wen’s re-election will increase the uncertainty of the situation in the Taiwan Strait” and also criticized that Tsai Ing-wen “defrauded” some votes to maintain his power in the Democratic Progressive Party.
Shelley Rigger, a visiting scholar at the National Taiwan University School of Social Sciences, told the Associated Press that Tsai Ing-wen is unlikely to adopt a more radical policy for complete independence, but it will not soften her stance on Beijing.