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Ruling party candidate opposed by China emerges victorious in Taiwan presidential election

President-elect Lai Ching-te vowed to defend the self-ruled island from Chinese “intimidation” and pledged to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

34EU9DG Preview 2TAIPEI: Ruling party candidate and current vice president Lai Ching-te has emerged victorious in Taiwan’s presidential election and his opponents have conceded.

Polls had closed Saturday in the presidential and parliamentary election that will chart the trajectory of the self-ruled democracy’s relations with China over the next four years.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate, won the presidential election Saturday, with partial results showing he had taken 40.2 percent of ballots cast as his two opponents conceded defeat in front of supporters.

The results were counted from 98 percent of polling stations across the island, according to figures from the Central Election Commission, showing that Lai’s main opponent Hou Yu-ih trailed behind with 33.4 percent of the vote count.

Following his victory, Lai said that the self-ruled island had managed to see off attempts to influence its election, in a swipe at China. “The Taiwanese people have successfully resisted efforts from external forces to influence this election,” Lai said in his victory speech.

“I want to thank the Taiwanese people for writing a new chapter in our democracy,” he said in a victory speech where he thanked his two opponents for conceding. “We are telling the international community that between democracy and authoritarianism, we will stand on the side of democracy.”

“We are determined to safeguard Taiwan from continuing threats and intimidation from China,” Lai said in his victory speech, while also pledging to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

At stake is the peace and stability of the island, 160 kilometres (100 miles) off the coast of China, that Beijing claims as its own and to be retaken by force if necessary. Domestic issues such as the sluggish economy and expensive housing also featured prominently in the campaign.

China has called the poll a choice between war and peace.

Beijing had strongly opposed the victorious candidate, current Vice President Lai Ching-te, of the governing Democratic Progressive Party, or DPP.

Lai and incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen reject China’s sovereignty claims over Taiwan, a former Japanese colony that split from the mainland amid a civil war in 1949. They have, however, offered to speak with Beijing, which has repeatedly refused to hold talks and called them separatists.

Beijing is believed to favour the candidate from the more China-friendly Nationalist Party, also known as Kuomintang or KMT.

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