Taiwan ruling party’s Lai wins presidential election

William Lai Ching-te from the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has won Taiwan’s presidential election, despite warnings from China – which claims Taiwan as part of its territory – not to vote for him.

The DPP does not represent the mainstream public opinion on the island, Beijing said after Lai was named the winner of Saturday’s vote, adding that the vote “will not impede the inevitable trend of China’s reunification”.

Lai, the current vice president, was in a three-way race with Hou Yu-ih from the conservative Kuomintang (KMT) and former Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je from the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), which was only founded in 2019.

Lai took 40.2 percent of votes cast, according to results from the Central Election Commission on Saturday.

Opponent Hou conceded defeat and congratulated Lai on his victory. He also apologised to KMT supporters for not being able to remove the DPP. Ko also conceded defeat.

“I want to thank the Taiwanese people for writing a new chapter in our democracy,” Lai said in a victory speech where he thanked his two opponents for conceding. “We are telling the international community that between democracy and authoritarianism, we will stand on the side of democracy.”

He added that he hoped for a return to “healthy and orderly” exchanges with China, reiterating his desire for talks based on dignity and parity.

‘China’s Taiwan’

Responding to Lai’s win, Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Chen Binhua said in a statement carried by state news agency Xinhua that “Taiwan is China’s Taiwan”.

“Our stance on resolving the Taiwan question and realising national ‘reunification’ remains consistent, and our determination is as firm as a rock,” it said.The statement said China would adhere to the one-China principle and firmly oppose the separatist activities aimed at “Taiwan independence” as well as “foreign interference”.


China has stepped up military pressure on Taiwan in recent years, periodically stoking worries about a potential invasion. Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a recent New Year’s address the “unification” of Taiwan with China was “inevitable“.

Al Jazeera’s Tony Cheng, reporting from Taipei, said, “There is a feeling here that whatever Taiwan does, China is going to travel its own course.”

“I think [Lai] has made an effort, as have the other candidates, to remain open to dialogue, but they are very aware that this is going to depend on what Beijing wants,” he added.

Cheng said China had made a point that it did not want to see Lai win the election and that a vote for the DPP would be a vote for war.

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