Tsai Ing-wen, candidate of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), was elected Taiwan's leader on January 16. The following is an edited excerpt of a comment of Xinhua News Agency on Taiwan's leadership election:
The result of the Taiwan's leadership election has aroused concerns about the development of the relationship between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan and doubts about the mainland's policies concerning affairs across the Taiwan Straits in the past eight years.
The first thing that should be noted is that it is a result influenced by multiple and complex factors, among which the island's economy, people's livelihoods and the mentality of the young were the most decisive.
Despite well-acknowledged achievements made in improving cross-Straits relations, Taiwan under the rule of Kuomintang (KMT) in the past eight years has suffered an economic downturn, a growing wealth gap, unsatisfactory improvement in livelihoods and a sense of deprivation among the younger generation.
As a result, voters pinned their hope on someone new and a new ruling party to bail Taiwan out.
Secondly, maintaining and promoting cross-Straits relations remains the mainstream public opinion in Taiwan.
Results of multiple opinion polls prior to the election showed that the majority of Taiwan people identify with the KMT's cross-Straits policies and hope the peaceful development of ties will not be affected by a change in the political arena.
Even Tsai has not dared to publicly deny the 1992 Consensus reached between the two sides which acknowledges that the Chinese mainland and Taiwan belong to one China.
Instead, she proposed maintaining the status quo and has deliberately evaded the topic of "Taiwan independence."
Tsai acted gingerly because she knows that advocating "Taiwan independence" would be a campaign disaster.
The mainland's cross-Straits policies, which encourage peaceful ties across the Straits, have guided Taiwan's public opinion that people dare not, cannot and do not want to seek independence. Since the majority of the voters in Taiwan chose the DPP, the DPP should take maintaining the status quo of peaceful cross-Straits relations as its top responsibility.
It would not be possible for Taiwan's new leader to solve the island's problems without a stable cross-Straits situation.
If someone obstinately sticks to the secessionist stance or acts as a troublemaker for regional stability, Taiwan's stability and development would be sheer empty talk and disappointed voters would throw out such a scourge during the next election.
There is no denying that the DPP's return rule poses grave challenges to cross-Straits relations. However, the mainland has the resolution and capability to foil any secessionist attempts.
If the DPP sincerely intends to maintain the status quo, it must give a clear answer to the key question of whether it supports the 1992 Consensus.
As to what direction Tsai and her DPP will head in, compatriots on both sides of the Straits are watching, and the international community is watching, too.
Copyedited by Mara Lee Durrell
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