Taiwan President-elect Lai Ching-te, of Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP), holds a press conference, following the victory in the presidential elections, in Taipei, Taiwan January 13, 2024 Reuters

Taiwan’s ruling party candidate, Lai Ching-te, wins Presidential election amid China threat

In the run-up to the election, China repeatedly denounced Lai as a dangerous separatist and rebuffed his repeated calls for talks

Reuters Taipei (Taiwan)

Lai Ching-te, the presidential candidate for Taiwan’s ruling party, won an election on Saturday that China had framed as a choice between war and peace.

The candidate for Taiwan’s main opposition party the Kuomintang (KMT), Hou Yu-ih, conceded defeat in the election.

Lai’s Democratic Progressive Party, which champions Taiwan’s separate identity and rejects China’s territorial claims, was seeking a third term, unprecedented under Taiwan’s current electoral system.

Lai was facing two opponents for the presidency – the KMT’s Hou and former Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je of the small Taiwan People’s Party, only founded in 2019.

Speaking to reporters in the southern city of Tainan before voting, Lai encouraged people to cast their ballots.

“Every vote is valued, as this is Taiwan’s hard-earned democracy,” he said in brief remarks.

In the run-up to the election, China repeatedly denounced Lai as a dangerous separatist and rebuffed his repeated calls for talks. Lai says he is committed to preserving peace across the Taiwan Strait and boosting the island’s defences.

Taiwan’s defence ministry said on Saturday morning it had again spotted Chinese balloons crossing the sensitive strait, one of which flew over Taiwan itself. The ministry has denounced the spate of balloons reported over the strait in the past month as psychological warfare and a threat to aviation safety.

“Nobody wants war,” said Jennifer Lu, 36, a businesswoman, who was playing on a grass pitch with her daughter after casting a ballot on a sunny morning in Taipei’s Songshan district.

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