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Decisions with significant consequences: Critic of China wins presidential elections in Taiwan

Following the presidential election in Taiwan, the candidate of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) emerged as the victor. The incumbent Vice President William Lai led ahead of the candidate from the China-friendly Kuomintang (KMT), Hou Yu-ih, and the contender from the populist Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), Ko Wen-je.

Taiwan’s presidential candidate William Lai from the hitherto ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) declared himself the winner. “I want to thank the people of Taiwan for writing a new chapter in our democracy,” said the 64-year-old in Taipei on Saturday. The opposing candidates had previously conceded defeat.

Five million votes for DPP

According to the BBC, there was great jubilation at the DPP headquarters when the result was announced. The party garnered over five million votes. 19.5 million people were eligible to vote.

Lai’s rival, opposition candidate Hou Yu-ih from the China-friendly Kuomintang (KMT), admitted defeat in the election. He said in Taipei, “I have let you all down.” According to surveys by local media, the 66-year-old former police officer received approximately 33 percent of the votes. The official election result was expected late on Saturday evening. The candidate of the populist Taiwan People’s Party, Ko Wen-je, also admitted his defeat.

The conservative KMT had advocated for the resumption of exchanges with the powerful neighboring country China during the election campaign. However, Hou also intended to maintain communication with the USA and invest in Taiwan’s defense with their weaponry. Ko also held a similar position with regards to China.

Beijing considers Taiwan as part of China, despite the island being governed by a democratic and independent government for years. Prior to the election, China had referred to Lai as a “troublemaker.”

Lai wins the election in Taiwan – will China now increase the pressure?

With Lai’s electoral victory, China’s communist leadership is likely to continue exerting pressure on Taiwan. Beijing regards the island republic as part of China, despite Taiwan having an independent and democratically elected government for decades. Since President Tsai took office in 2016, Beijing, which views the DPP’s advocacy for Taiwanese independence as separatist, had frozen contact with Taipei.

In the strait between China and Taiwan, which is crucial for global shipping, where the Chinese military sends fighter jets towards the island republic almost daily as a show of force, tensions could persist or even escalate. China seeks a “reunification” of the island with the mainland, even if it requires military force.

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