Taiwans China-sceptic ruling party opts for moderate new leader

FILE- Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during an event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Message to Compatriots in Taiwan at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing China 02 January 2019

FILE- Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during an event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Message to Compatriots in Taiwan at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing China 02 January 2019

President Tsai has called on the PRC to respect Taiwan's governance and position in the global community, and has insisted that Taiwan is not willing to consider the "one country, two systems" framework that the PRC so adamantly pushes as the only plausible option for unification.

Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to prepare for battle on Friday, as Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-Wen called for global support to defend the island's democracy amid renewed threats of unification from the mainland.

The Chinese President Xi Jinping had reiterated on Wednesday that China is seeking reunification with Taiwan, and the use of military force is not excluded.

Relations between Taiwan and China have been at a low since Tsai came to power in 2016, refusing to acknowledge that the self-ruled island is part of "one China".

Tsai resigned as leader of the DPP immediately after her party suffered a disastrous defeat in the island-wide local elections on November 24 a year ago.

Cho is considered to be a protege of Tsai and his position on various issues are expected to be closely aligned with the president's.

Tsai resigned the party chairmanship but stayed on as president, staying above the fray in the vote to replace her. "It's important because the worldwide community, and China, will be watching", J. Michael Cole, a Taipei-based expert with the University of Nottingham's China Policy Institute, told AFP.

In Sunday's election, Cho won over his opponent, who is critical of Tsai's policies.

"Any major departure from long-standing policy under President Tsai could alarm global partners and give Beijing ammunition to further crack down on Taiwan". He said the Democratic Progressive Party will continue to defend Taiwan.

Tensions between Taiwan and Beijing, which claims the self-governing island as part of Chinese territory, have emerged as one of the region's flash points.

While Beijing has reacted frostily to Tsai, she is from a much more moderate wing within her party that favours talks.

Huang added that the low turnout reflected a lack of interest among DPP members after last year's election defeat.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), made the instruction at a CMC meeting held in Beijing. Yen Chien-Fa, a political analyst at Chien Hsin University, said whoever comes out on top will have significant influence on the 2020 campaign and whether Tsai is the candidate.

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