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Taiwan ruling party’s Lai wins presidential election

Published : 14 Jan 2024 01:07 AM

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

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.”

The electoral results were counted from 98 percent of polling stations across the island, according to the commission tally, which also showed that Hou had trailed with 33.4 percent of the vote.

Voters also elected politicians to Taiwan’s 113-seat legislature in elections closely watched by China and the United States.