The Republic of China (Taiwan) reported a successful presidential election with the choosing of the first female president for the country, Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive party which ends the decades end rule of the opposing Kuomintang party.
This development has sparked controversy on both sides of the strait that separates Taiwan from mainland China. Both countries have contentious relations as the legitimacy and diplomatic recognition of each other remains a sensitive topic for the two governments. Following the Chinese Civil War in 1949, the Kuomintang party departed mainland China for what is now Taiwan to create its own government. Since then, relations with the mainland have remained tense as China still regards Taiwan as its own territory whereas many in Taiwan maintain their identity as separate from that of the mainland. Whereas the Kuomintang party has made significant progress to improving relations between the two governments and has made efforts to improve economic ties, Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party has a more harsh view on the intergovernmental relations and already regards Taiwan as separate from the mainland. This party’s ideology contrasts deeply from the One China policy that was adopted in the 1990s which states that both sides agree that there is one state known as China despite the two governments that oppose each other. The Democratic Progressive Party has previously stated its desire to be fully independent from mainland China which has sparked criticism and China has already reaffirmed its ability to forcibly take back Taiwan through military force if necessary.
Tsai Ing-wen seeks to improve cross-strait relations, but also diversify economic ties and relations separate from the interests of China. This election is a critical time for the Taiwanese people as many young individuals seek to assert their unique identity on the world stage. The Kuomintang (KMT) party has additionally lost the majority in the country’s parliament for the first time which is now controlled by the Democratic Progressive Party. This sudden change in the country’s relatively new democracy sparks a new era in Taiwan. Tsai Ing-wen’s focus remains on the unity and strength of the country amidst strenuous tensions, and the situation will continue to develop as the country moves forward.