TSAI ING-WEN won a sweeping re-election victory in Taiwan’s presidential election on January 11.
She received a record 8.2 million votes, 1.3 million more than she won first time round in 2016. That translates into a 57% vote share, giving her a secure mandate for the next four years for her firmly China-sceptic stance.
Preliminary results in the legislative election held at the same time give her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) 61 of the 113 seats in parliament. (Update: The DPP lost seven of its 68 seats in the legislature. The Kuomintang gained three, to take it to 38. The remaining 14 seats went to independents and small parties.)
The relationship with China dominated the campaign. In her victory speech, Tsai called on China to abandon its threat to reunify the island by force.
That may fall on deaf ears.
Mainland state media have already dismissed the result as a ‘temporary counter-current‘ and the result of anti-Chinese Western powers (i.e., the United States) intervening to contain China. “The historical trend toward a stronger China, national rejuvenation, and reunification cannot be stopped by any force or anyone,” thundered Xinhua in a commentary. The Party’s ever belligerently nationalist Global Times headlined one election report, ‘Mainland experts urge expediting reunification after Tsai’s win‘.
Beijing has been publicly rebuffed. How much its bluster turns into action — and how much it becomes part of the broader US-China conflict — will be Tsai’s preoccupation for the next four years.