Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen's 'separatist stance' cost party election: Chinese media

Arturo Kim
November 28, 2018

"Taiwan doesn't deny its cultural links with China, but instead it is championing the universal values of freedom and democracy".

Others are turned off by the ruling party because it stands by statements and actions that others find problematic, said Gratiana Jung, senior political researcher with the Yuanta-Polaris Research Institute think tank in Taipei.

Social media posts said to be "fake news" have included photos of discarded bananas and pineapples which were framed as proof the government did not care about farmers, as well as posts which suggested Taiwan had failed to get its citizens out of Japan after a typhoon - a senior Taiwan official in Osaka committed suicide after the reports.

Tsai resigned on Saturday as chairwoman of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) after losing key battleground cities in mayoral polls to the China-friendly Kuomintang.

Tsai has promoted Taiwan as a beacon of democracy in the region since she took office, pitching it as a counterpoint to China's authoritarianism.

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

While Saturday's polls were largely decided by local concerns, Beijing cast a heavy shadow after two years of unrelenting efforts to restrict Taiwan's participation in global society and advertise its threat to use force to bring the island under its control. It is unclear how Saturday's voting will affect legislation.

Bejing has staged war games around the island of Taiwan and poached five of its diplomatic allies.

By most economic metrics, Tsai hasn't performed badly as president.

Since snatching office in 2016, Tsai has pursued a stronger stance against an increasingly assertive Beijing.

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"The public wants you to go accept negotiations with mainland China so previous relations, for example the 20 agreements, can keep being executed, but you need to find your own way of doing it", Chao said.

The DPP's core supporters are the 30% of Taiwanese who are adamant about independence and want it immediately.

Voters in Taiwan passed a referendum asking that marriage be restricted to one man and one woman, a setback to LGBT couples hoping their island will be the first place in Asia to let same-sex couples share child custody and insurance benefits.

No matter what happens, Taiwan will still likely become the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage.

Voters passed a referendum asking that marriage be restricted to one man and one woman despite draft legislation a year ago by ruling party lawmakers suggesting recognition of same-sex ties.

Kuo, 40, said she was "saddened and disappointed" over the referendum result, but still felt encouraged that three million people had backed the pro-gay marriage vote.

Their campaign may have raised fear among voters, said Shiau Hong-chi, professor of gender studies and communications management at Shih-Hsin University in Taiwan.

The referendum comes after Taiwan's highest court ruled Article 972 of the country's civil code prohibiting same-sex marriage was unconstitutional in May of last year and gave Taiwanese parliament two years to amend it.

The final blow on a shocking night for the DPP and numerous liberals and progressives who carried it into power came with the news that Taiwan - considered to be one of Asia's most progressive societies - had overwhelmingly voted against the legalization of same-sex marriage under the civil code. Legislators, though mindful of public opinion, are obligated to carry out the legal order.

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