Taiwan Elects Tsai Ing-wen as Its First Female President

Tsai Ing-wen (photo by David Reid)

In a national election that will be seen as expressing the Taiwan people's dissatisfaction with its relationship with mainland China, Democratic Progessive Party (DPP) candidate Tsai Ing-wen has become the island's first female president, and the highest-ranking elected female official in the Chinese-speaking world. The DPP also looked set to win control of Taiwan's legislature.

Taiwan regards itself officially as the Republic of China on Taiwan, a political entity created after the Kuomintang (KMT) was defeated by the Communist Party of China (CCP) in 1949, which founded the People's Republic of China. The People's Republic regards China as a renegade province and has vowed to use force to reunify Taiwan with the rest of the country if the ROC declares independence.

Advertisement

Regardless of its official status, Taiwan is currently self-governing, holding democratic elections and supporting religious freedom, including for Roman Catholics and other Christians. As many as two percent of Taiwan’s 21 million people identify themselves as Catholic. There is one archdiocese and six diocese on Taiwan.

New President Tsai, 59, holds a Ph.D from the London School of Economics and a Masters degree in law from Cornell University. She had previously run for president in 2012, but was defeated by incumbent Ma Ying-jeou. She has never married.

The DPP's general pro-Taiwan stance and platform that the People’s Republic and Taiwan should operate on a state-to-state basisi is not popular with the CCP in Beijing. The party's first successful presidential candidate, Chen Shui-bian, was elected in 2000 and served until 2008. The KMT's Ma followed Chen, and improved relations with the People's Republic to the point where direct flights between cities in Taiwan and the Chinese mainland were resumed for the first time since 1949, along with the large-scale opening of Taiwan to tourism from other parts of China.

Tsai officially takes up her new position on May 20.

Steven Schwankert, author of Poseidon: China’s Secret Salvage of Britain’s Lost Submarine (Hong Kong University Press), is America’s Beijing correspondent. Twitter: @greatwriteshark.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

An official wedding photo of Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, center, in Windsor Castle, Windsor, England. Others in photo from left, back row, Jasper Dyer, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Doria Ragland, Prince William; center row, Brian Mulroney, Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte, Prince George, Rylan Litt, John Mulroney; front row, Ivy Mulroney, Florence van Cutsem, Zalie Warren, Remi Litt. (Alexi Lubomirski/Kensington Palace via AP)
A poll found that 66 percent of the British public declared they were not interested in the Windsor wedding.
David StewartMay 23, 2018
God simply is a triad of love: a going out in love, a return in love and thus, ever more, love itself.
Terrance KleinMay 23, 2018
The leaders sent a letter to President Donald Trump, administration officials and members of Congress.
Altar servers lead a Palm Sunday procession March 25 in Youtong, in China's Hebei province. (CNS photo/Damir Sagolj, Reuters)
The pope appeared to be alluding to the fact that since February there has been a crackdown by the Chinese authorities on religion in the mainland.
Gerard O’ConnellMay 23, 2018