Polls close in landmark Taiwan election

Pro-independence Tsai Ing-wen is expected to be thrust into the job, becoming the country's first female president.

    Despite the trade deals and tourism boom, closer ties have exacerbated fears that China is eroding Taiwan's sovereignty [Reuters]
    Despite the trade deals and tourism boom, closer ties have exacerbated fears that China is eroding Taiwan's sovereignty [Reuters]

    Polls have closed in Taiwan in a presidential election that is expected to propel the pro-independence opposition party to power.

    The Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) Tsai Ing-wen is poised to become the self-governing island's first female president, returning the main opposition party to power after eight years under the China-friendly Nationalist, or Kuomintang, Party (KMT).

    Pre-election polls showed that scholar-turned-politician Tsai Ing-wen, with a far more careful approach to China than the ruling KMT of President Ma Ying-jeou, will win the election. 


    Reporter's Notebook: China's shadow looms over crucial Taiwan election


    Parliamentary polls were also held, and if the DPP wins those too, Tsai will get an even stronger mandate. 

    Tsai has walked a careful path on her China strategy, saying she wants to maintain the "status quo" with Beijing.

    However, the DPP is traditionally a pro-independence party and opponents say Tsai will destabilise relations.

    Rapprochement

    After decades of enmity, current KMT President Ma Ying-jeou has overseen a dramatic rapprochement with China since coming to power in 2008.

    Although Taiwan is self-ruling after it split with China following a civil war in 1949, it has never formally declared independence, and Beijing still sees it as part of its territory awaiting reunification - by force if necessary.

    The thaw culminated in a summit between Ma and Chinese President Xi Jinping in November.

    Yet, despite more than 20 deals and a tourist boom, closer ties have exacerbated fears that China is eroding Taiwan's sovereignty by making it economically dependent.

    In 2014, the government was forced to shelve a trade pact after student-led protesters occupied parliament.

    Beijing has warned it will not deal with any leader who does not recognise the "one China" principle, part of a tacit agreement between Beijing and the KMT known as the "1992 Consensus". The DPP has never recognised the consensus.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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