News: Last week, Taiwan’s first female President Tsai Ing-wen was re-elected in a landslide victory. Tsai Ing-wen is the leader of the Democratic Progressive Party and has been president since 2016.
Where is Taiwan? Taiwan is an island in Asia and lies just off the coast of China.
Why has there been so much buzz around this election? Much of it has to do with threats from China. China considers Taiwan as one of its provinces, while many people in Taiwan see it as an independent nation.
China has been trying to push the idea of ‘one country, two systems (where the Taiwanese would have some say in local government – the same model as Hong Kong) but most Taiwanese are not buying it.
Over the last few years China has imposed all sorts of economic, trade and tourism restrictions on the island. It has barred other countries from having diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Only 18 countries recognize it as a self-governing nation. They have displayed military threats by having military vessels and aircrafts cruise around the vicinity of the island and banned Chinese tourists from visiting the island.
But the threat of Chinese interference swung the vote is Ms. Ing-wen’s favor. The agitation in Hong Kong has further worried Taiwanese people. President Tsai promises peaceful ties with China and has promised to protect Taiwanese freedom.
How does this ambiguous legal status affect Taiwan? Taiwan has its own constitution, army, and elected government. Over the years it has developed in a technology and manufacturing hub and the 19th largest economy in the world. Taiwan has most of the characteristics of an independent state even though its legal status is questionable.