A comprehensive victory by the independence minded Tsai Ing-wen will only embolden protests in Hong Kong

January 14, 2020

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen waves to supporters outside her campaign headquarters in Taipei on Jan. 11, as votes were being counted after an election battle dominated by the democratic island’s fraught relationship with China.(Photo: AFP)

Years of effort by China’s ruling Communist Party to interfere in Taiwan’s presidential and legislative elections held on Jan. 11 have failed miserably.

President Tsai Ing-wen was overwhelmingly re-elected at the weekend with a record 8 million votes (57.1 percent) in an election that was seen as a referendum on ties with mainland China.

Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) also improved its majority in parliamentary elections held the same day and now holds enough seats to pass legislation in its own right.

The result will only increase pressure on Beijing, under the leadership of Xi Jinping, over its woeful mishandling of Hong Kong, which is now in its eighth month of street protests against Beijing’s chipping away of the “one country, two systems” agreement.

Protesters, a significant slice of whom are democracy-oriented, will be emboldened by the result. There have been close ties between pan-democratic parties in Hong Kong and the DPP for many years.

Indeed, it was Xi’s speech in early 2018 that pushed for the unification of Taiwan with the mainland that forced Taiwanese to increasingly reject the term “reunification.”

After all, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has never had control over the island since it seized power in 1949.

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