Published: Wed, November 28, 2018
World Media | By Cesar Oliver

Taiwan leader's 'separatist stance' cost election: Chinese media

Taiwan leader's 'separatist stance' cost election: Chinese media

Ballot initiatives are advisory only in Taiwan, but the vote in favor of restricting marriage to male-female couples will put lawmakers in a hard position.

"The election results are a major warning to Tsai's governing team", said Frank Cheng-shan Liu, a professor at National Sun Yat Sen University in Kaohsiung, who predicted increased friction within the DPP and greater difficulty in pushing Tsai's reform agenda.

Voters faced lengthy queues as they dealt with complex ballots which also included a referendum on a bid to change the name under which Taiwan competes at global sports events that has already angered China. It was seen as a test of support for independence.

The outcome "reflected the strong will of the public in Taiwan to share the benefits of peaceful development across the Taiwan Straits, and their desire to improve the island's economy and people's well-being", Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the Cabinet's Taiwan Affairs Office, was quoted as saying by China's official Xinhua News Agency.

"This result demands a response from Tsai, and the obvious change would be to emphasize the DPP's strengths and the things that got Tsai in", said Jonathan Sullivan, director of Nottingham University's China Policy Institute.

Taiwan's relations with China have deteriorated since Ms Tsai came to power in 2016.

The standard bearer of Taiwan's pro-independence movement, Tsai has about 12 months before elections in January 2020 to galvanize the support she has squandered if she doesn't want to become the island's first one-term president.

Tsai took responsibility for the dissatisfaction at a media briefing where she announced her resignation.

The China-friendly former ruling party Kuomintang (KMT) made a dramatic comeback, winning 15 of the 22 cities and counties in Taiwan.

Taiwan votes on gay marriage, controversial name change

There has been a notable slowdown in the economic sectors for this quarter, with predicted product per capita for this year said to be around US$ 25,997, which is 26% less than South Korea's forecast of US$32,775. "We have learned a lesson and must reflect on ourselves as, obviously, voters have a higher expectation of us".

Beijing has intensified pressure on Taiwan under Tsai, upping military drills, poaching diplomatic allies and successfully convincing worldwide businesses to list the island as part of China on their websites.

Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights, an LGBTIQ rights group, on Saturday reminded the government it is obliged to put the Council of Grand Justices' Constitutional Interpretation No. 748 in favor of same-sex marriage into law despite the referendum results.

The vote was just another headache in a awful result for Tsai, who has been attacked from both sides for her formerly strong positions on the issue.

Independent Ko Wen-je appeared to have won re-election in Taipei, the capital, although his Nationalist rival Ting Shou-chung has filed for a recount.

But Prime Minister Tsai Ing-wen (who ran on an equality platform) and other legislators were too timid to take action.

Although the ballot initiative is advisory only and politicians face the court deadline next year.

The issue over Taiwan's sovereignty is a complicated unresolved remnant of history dating back more than a century and, to be fair, Chinese people have as much right to want unification as Taiwanese people do to want independence.

China has been ratcheting up pressure on the island it claims as its own territory by poaching away its diplomatic partners, cutting official contacts and staging threatening military exercises.

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