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Updated January 14th, 2024 at 04:22 IST

Taiwan Defies China's Warnings, Elects DPP's William Lai as President

The Chinese government had warned against voting for Lai, cautioning that his election could "trigger cross-Strait confrontation and conflict."

Sagar Kar
Taiwan
Pro-independence Taiwanese presidential election candidate William Lai. | Image:AP
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In a significant turn of events, Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progress Party (DPP) candidate, William Lai, emerged victorious in Saturday's presidential election, marking an unprecedented third consecutive term for the same party. The main opposition candidate, Hou Yu-ih, conceded defeat, solidifying Lai's triumph.

According to a report from Axios, the election outcome holds substantial geopolitical implications as the Chinese government is expected to escalate its pressure campaign against Taiwan in response to Lai's win. Beijing has labeled Lai a "separatist through and through," hinting at potential challenges ahead for cross-Strait relations.

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Taiwan has shown the world how much it cherishes democracy, says Lai

"I want to thank the Taiwanese people for writing a new chapter in our democracy. We have shown the world how much we cherish our democracy," expressed Lai, acknowledging the significance of the electoral process. As the newly elected president, Lai emphasized his commitment to maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

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DPP won the presidential elections but lost control of legislature 

Despite his victory, the DPP lost control of the legislature, setting the stage for a dynamic political landscape. With no party securing a majority, the KMT and the third-party Taiwan People's Party (TPP) exhibited strong showings. The DPP and KMT are now poised to compete for TPP support to advance their legislative agendas.

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"This is an unprecedented victory for Lai: a third straight presidential term for the same party," said Raymond Kuo, director of the RAND Corporation's Taiwan Policy Initiative, to Axios. The KMT faces calls for internal reform, with the TPP's strong showing largely attributed to its expense.

An unhappy China?

The Chinese government had warned against voting for Lai, cautioning that his election could "trigger cross-Strait confrontation and conflict." Accusations of election interference were leveled against China by researchers and Taiwanese government officials in the months leading up to the polls.

Despite these challenges and the censorship of Taiwan's election discussions on China's social media platforms, Lai's victory underscores Taiwan's commitment to its democratic values in the face of external pressures.

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Published January 14th, 2024 at 04:22 IST

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