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Taiwan election: Lai Ching-te’s victory is the most provoking outcome to China | World News


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Lai Ching-te and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have made history.

This is the first time in Taiwan‘s nearly 30-year-old democracy that the same party has won three consecutive terms.

And it’s absolutely significant they have done so while constantly standing on a platform of standing up to China.

Indeed, Mr Lai has consistently characterised this campaign as a choice between “democracy and autocracy”.

Lai Ching-te casts his vote in Taiwan
Lai Ching-te casts his vote in Taiwan

Even at the polls today while casting his ballot, he made sure to emphasise that Taiwan’s democratic process has been “hard-won” and “should be cherished”.

It is a message that has clearly resonated.

Many times people here have told us that while they might not favour the DPP’s domestic policies or feel a change would be nice, they will vote for them regardless with cross-strait relations in mind.

This has held despite the fact that tensions have soared in recent years, with Beijing making increasing military threats and poaching Taiwan’s few remaining diplomatic allies.

Mr Lai may also have been helped to victory this time by the fact that for the first time Taiwan’s election was a properly three-horse race.

Supporters of the DPP cheer during a campaign rally on election day. Pic: AP
Supporters of the DPP cheer during a campaign rally on election day. Pic: AP

The new insurgent TPP party led by the popular Ko Wen-je focused primarily on domestic issues and won a lot of support from young people.

And that seems to have predominantly been at the expense of the opposition KMT party, a more conservative group which favours greater dialogue with China.

Of course a Mr Lai victory is the most provoking outcome to China. It sees the self-governing island of Taiwan as a breakaway province that should be “re-unified” with the mainland.

Contrary to expectations China has been relatively quiet this week. Only one Chinese warplane crossed into Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) the day before polling.

There have been plenty of days in recent months and years when that number has been dozens.

Read more:
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Lai Ching-te waves while declaring victory in the election
Mr Lai greets supporters in New Taipei City after winning the election. Pic: AP

Many believe this was intentional so as not to push voters into the arms of the DPP.

It has clearly not worked.

In fact at Mr Lai’s victory party, the elation was self-evident. People gathered for hours beforehand to get a spot, faces etched with emotion, Taiwan’s flag proudly waving.

There is a clear sense here that elections are about so much more than just a set of policies. They are about identity and who people feel they are.

This island might still occupy a precarious position, and it remains to be seen how China will respond in the coming days and weeks.

But it is absolutely evident that democracy is cherished here, and any sense it might be under threat is a clear and consistent motivator.

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Written by: radioroxi

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