China hails defeat of Taiwan’s pro-independence party in local polls
TAIPEI: China yesterday welcomed the defeat of Taiwan's pro-independence ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) at local elections, saying it showed people wanted peaceful relations with Beijing.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who faces re-election in a little more than a year, on Saturday resigned as chairman of the DPP, taking responsibility for her party's massive defeat at the mayoral and county elections.
The DPP has now been left in control of only six of Taiwan's cities and counties, compared with at least 15 for the China-friendly Kuomintang party.
Significantly, it lost one of its most steadfast strongholds, the southern city of Kaohsiung.
"The (election) results reflected the strong will of the Taiwan public in hoping to continue to share the benefits of the peaceful development of relations across the Taiwan Strait, and their strong wish in hoping to improve the island's economy and people's well-being," said a statement by China's Taiwan Affairs Office and carried by state media.
Since Ms Tsai took office in 2016, China has ramped up pressure on Taiwan, suspicious that Ms Tsai wants formal independence. She has said she wants only the status quo but will defend Taiwan's security.
Tensions across the Taiwan Strait have heightened recently with China conducting military drills around the island and snatching away Taiwan's falling number of diplomatic allies.
In the run-up to the elections, Ms Tsai and her government said China was trying to sway voters with "political bullying" and "fake news", accusations Beijing denied.
DPP Secretary General Hung Yao-fu, asked on Saturday about whether the China factor influenced the elections, reiterated there had been a problem with "fake news".
"I think this time was a deep lesson, in terms of fake news messing up with a lot of people's judgment or not getting clear information," he told reporters.
"This is a global problem not just Taiwan's unique problem." - REUTERS