A Charismatic President

“Taiwan is an island of resilience. Centuries of hardship have compelled our society to cope, adapt, and survive trying circumstances. We have found ways to persevere through difficult times together as a nation, and the COVID-19 pandemic is no different” – Tsai Ing-wen.

Tsai Ing-wen is a Taiwanese politician, scholar and the first female president of the Republic of China, commonly known as Taiwan, since 20 May 2016. 

Tsai was born in 1956 in a coastal village in southern Taiwan as the youngest of nine children. Her father was a Hakka descendent and mother was a Taiwanese. Her blended ethnicity is referred to as one of the attributes that helped her engage with supporters.

She studied law and graduated in 1978 from National Taiwan University in Taipei and afterwards went to Cornell University in New York and the London School of Economics earning her Master’s (1980) and doctorate (1984) degrees in law respectively. Tsai then came back to Taiwan and worked as a lecturer in Universities until the year 2000.

 Tsai started government service in the 1990s, as she was requested to serve as an adviser on the National Security Council to former president Lee Teng-hui. One of the significant achievement of Tsai was, her role as a negotiator leading the way for Taiwan to join the World Trade Organization in 2002. 

When Chen Shui-bian of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) became the president in 2000, he made Tsai as the chairwomen of the Mainland Affairs Council. Later the party endured challenges due to the resistance to China and because of its advocacy of Taiwanese independence. 

In 2004, Tsai joined DPP and was elected as a member of Taiwan’s national legislature. When DPP lost the polls in 2008 to Ma Ying-jeou, Tsai was able to rejuvenate the party and become popular as the new KMT (kuomitang) dominated government got buried in defilement and idiocy.

Tsai’s style and capacity made her shine amidst the crowd of the DPP old guards. Which eventually attracted more young voters. Despite the splits and factionalism in the party, Tsai gathered the support she needed to revive the DPP. Under her initiative, it has performed much better in local elections.

Her first endeavour at running for president failed in 2012, yet she kept on expanding on her triumphs. After four years, on sixteenth January 2016, Tsai won the presidential elections, by beating former mayor of Taipei, Eric Chu Li-Iuan by an edge of 25.04%. Tsai was inaugurated as president on twentieth May 2016. After the political race, Tsai was named as one of “The most influential People” in Time Magazine issued on second May 2016. 

Tsai’s first term saw numerous features such enactment of same-sex marriage, offering a conventional statement of apology to indigenous Taiwanese on behalf of Taiwan’s legislature and the New Southbound Policy (NSP) which was mildly effective in diminishing Taiwan’s financial dependence on China. 

However, Tsai had a lot of mishandles, most noticeably in her administration’s treatment of much-required annuity and work changes, just as the section of the same-sex marriage law, all of which added to low open endorsement evaluations and finished in the disastrous 2018 local elections. Thinking about her first term, there were many learning minutes for Tsai, as her supporters’ desires were high for an effective second term. 

The 15th presidential and vice-presidential election of Taiwan was held on January 11th. 2020. Tsai Ing-wen of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was reelected as the incumbent president of Taiwan following her landslide victory, defeating Kaohsiung mayor Han Kuo-yu of the Kuomintang (KMT) and his running mate Chang San-cheng, as well as third-party candidate James Soong.

Following the sides split in the civil war in1949, Beijing has cut off binds with Tsai’s administration over her refusal to acknowledge its interest that she perceives the island as a piece of China. Beijing’s negotiators have closed Taiwan out of universal social affairs, for example, the World Health Assembly and poached away its strategic partners while its military has boosted patrols and activities planned for intimidating the island’s population. 

On the inauguration day, Tsai reacted to a reporters’ inquiry on Taiwan’s freedom by saying the nation is “already independent” and has no compelling reason to officially announce it. 

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen took the oath for her second four-year term on this month, floated by record-high prominence as the nation proceeds with its effective reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. “This is the most special presidential inauguration in the history of the Republic of China”, President Tsai said, thanking the people of Taiwan for “making such a difficult feat happen”.

In a scaled-down inauguration ceremony at which a limited number of participants practised social distancing, visitors from foreign governments did not attend the ceremony due to coronavirus travel concerns.

However, Tsai was congratulated in a statement by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “The United States has long considered Taiwan a force for good in the world and a reliable partner,” Pompeo said in the statement. “We have shared a vision for the region- one that includes rule of law, transparency, prosperity and security for all.” 

One researcher told Taiwan’s state-run Central News Agency that Pompeo is the highest-ranking U.S. official to congratulate a Taiwan president since the United States switched ties from Taipei to Beijing in 1979. Also, Matthew Pottinger, senior director of the U.S. National Security Council, was one of 92 foreign dignitaries to congratulate Tsai through video messages.

President Tsai Ing-wen emphasized in her speech on making the nation a key player in the post coronavirus pandemic world order, and regarding the plans of advancing local enterprises abroad, despite the worldwide economic hardships. 

Taiwan has affirmed only 440 cases of COVID-19 and seven deaths; it has recorded no new cases since May 7 and has not seen a local transmission since April 12. President Tsai applauded the resilience of the Taiwanese individuals in managing the coronavirus. Taiwan’s regulation of the infection has “amazed the international community,” Tsai said during her inaugural address.

“Taiwan has one of the world’s top health care systems, strong research capabilities and transparent information that we actively share with both the public and international bodies. Indeed, Taiwan has effectively managed the containment of the corona-virus within our borders. Yet on a global level, COVID-19 is a humanitarian disaster that requires the joint efforts of all countries. Although Taiwan has been unfairly excluded from the WHO and the U.N., we remain willing and able to utilize our strengths across manufacturing, medicine and technology to work with the world.”- Tsai Ing-Wen

The president additionally expressed gratitude toward the Taiwanese individuals for their solidarity and versatility in containing the COVID-19 outbreak and offered to take part in a dialogue with Beijing ensuring to respect Taiwan’s sovereignty and reject Beijing’s “one country, two systems” formula and reiterating the cross-strait stance that fueled her landslide re-election victory in January.

Further, the president emphasized, “We have made the greatest effort to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait over the past four years, gaining approval from the international community. We will continue these efforts, and we are willing to engage in dialogue with China and make more concrete contributions to regional security”.

While Taiwan dropped its offer on Monday to participate as a spectator at the World Health Assembly due to limitation from Beijing and other China-obliging people, its commitment to giving proactive assistance to various countries suffering COVID-19 has joined with Tsai’s stewardship of a bolder Taiwan that looks to advocate for itself as a nation, outside the circle of cross-waterway affairs.

“I am going to reinvent Taiwan and lead our country into the future,” says the president who set an example to the world by battling COVID-19 and won many international hearts.

By Jumana Jabeer

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