Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen cruises to reelection over weak, China-friendly opponent

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      In Taiwan, the Democratic People's Party is less eager than its rival, the Kuomintang, to cozy up to China.

      And in the recent presidential election, the DPP incumbent, Tsai Ing-wen, benefited enormously as this became a huge issue, thanks to China curtailing freedoms in Hong Kong.

      Tsai, a former law professor, and running mate Willliam Lai won an easy victory over Kaohsiung mayor Han Kuo-yu and his running mate, Chang San-cheng.

      In fact, Tsai won a record 57 percent of the vote with record-high turnout of 74.9 percent and more than eight million votes cast.

      It was an astonishing turnaround for Tsai, whose party was hammered in local elections in 2018. The DPP holds 61 of the 113 seats in the Legislative Yuan.

      During the campaign, Tsai emphasized that Taiwan would never accept the "one country, two systems" approach that China applies to Hong Kong.

      That message helped consolidate the DPP's support.

      In addition, in her New Year's Day address less than two weeks before the election, Tsai announced that her government was creating a retirement system for farmers.

      She also talked about improved transportation, including by opening the South Link Highway.

      Tsai also highlighted how more Taiwanese money is returning to the island nation, which has a population of about 23 million.

      "We will realize trillions of dollars in investments, turning Taiwan into a high-end manufacturing centre, high-tech R&D center, green energy development centre, regional capital and wealth management centre, and a hub for high-tech and industrial personnel training." she said. "We will devote our efforts to economic transformation and industrial innovation to remold Taiwan amid rapid change in the global economy."

      Her opponent, Han, ran what's generally conceded as a dreadful campaign, squandering a lead in the polls early last year.

      Han, a populist, was also dogged by scandal after Next magazine discovered that he and his wife owned many properties, which were allegedly purchased with the help of the secretary general of Kaoshiung's tourism bureau.

      The KMT candidate's wife also triggered outrage in progressive circles when she claimed that Taiwanese children were being taught about anal sex.

      Taiwan's decision to legalize same-sex marriage last year led artist Tony Zhou to create portraits of Taiwanese LGBT heroes, which were shown at TaiwanFest in Vancouver.

      Last year, Taiwan became the first country in East Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.

      The KMT's dog-whistling to homophobes drew criticism from the Taipei Times and helped cement Tsai's support with younger voters.

      "Using discrimination and hatred in campaign platforms seems to be an alarming worldwide trend, and Taiwan is no exception," the paper stated in an editorial. "This has long been evident: When same-sex marriage was legalized in May, KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) and others protested the law, saying: 'If you vote for the KMT in 2020, we will change the laws back.'

      "In an event to honor exemplary fathers in October, former KMT chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) said: 'If you vote for the wrong person, there might no longer be events to honor exemplary fathers, because we would not know if the father is male or female.' Miaoli County Commissioner Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌) also caused a stir, saying in October that same-sex marriage would lead to humankind’s extinction."

      Tsai, on the other hand, has made no secret of her support for the country's LGBT community.

      Canadian government officials have been silent about the election results in Taiwan.

      That stands in contrast to U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo, Japanee foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi, and the British, French, and Australian foreign offices all issuing congratulatory messages President Tsai.

      China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang, on the other hand, said his government deplores and firmly opposes "those countries' violation of the one-China principle".