Taiwan election: a fight for national identity

Historic DPP victory throws spotlight on generational divide over island's position on independence, identity and China

Taiwan president-elect Lai Ching-te
The victory of President-elect Lai Ching-te and his pro-Taiwanese sovereignty Democratic Progressive Party is bad news for Beijing
(Image credit: Annabelle Chih/Getty Images)

Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has won an unprecedented third consecutive presidential victory, in an election closely watched by the world.

President-elect Lai Ching-te is taking over from Tsai Ing-wen, who has served the maximum two terms in the top job, after claiming more than 40% of the vote. "This is a night that belongs to Taiwan," Lai, currently vice president, told supporters at a rally after his two main opposition rivals conceded defeat following Saturday's election. "We managed to keep Taiwan on the map of the world." 

Global leaders have congratulated Lai, "drawing ire" from China, which had hoped to see the pro-sovereignty DPP ousted, said The Guardian. In a statement issued after the election result was announced, Beijing insisted once again that "Taiwan is part of China". 

Lai's victory, said CNN, is "a further snub to eight years of increasingly strongarm tactics towards Taiwan" by China under President Xi Jinping, who has vowed that the island's eventual "reunification" with the mainland is "a historical inevitability". The result is also "another major blow for Taiwan's Kuomintang, which back warmer relations with Beijing and have not held the presidency since 2016".

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Harriet Marsden is a writer for The Week, mostly covering UK and global news and politics. Before joining the site, she was a freelance journalist for seven years, specialising in social affairs, gender equality and culture. She worked for The Guardian, The Times and The Independent, and regularly contributed articles to The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The New Statesman, Tortoise Media and Metro, as well as appearing on BBC Radio London, Times Radio and “Woman’s Hour”. She has a master’s in international journalism from City University, London, and was awarded the "journalist-at-large" fellowship by the Local Trust charity in 2021.