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Taiwan

Taiwan and Beijing get closer after Ma Ying-jeou reelected president

Ma Ying-jeou
Ma Ying-jeou Reuters/Pichi Chuang

Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou was reelected Saturday with 51.6 per cent of the votes on a 90 per cent vote count. Buoyed up by support for closer economic ties with mainland China, he promised “more harmonious” relations with Beijing.

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"In the next four years, ties with China will be more harmonious and there will be more

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mutual trust and the chance of conflict is slimmer,” Ma told supporters Saturday. "I will ensure a sustainable environment for peace for Taiwan."

Ma, who was the candidate for the Kuomintang (KMT) party, has presided over growing links with the People’s Republic, which has 2,000 missiles pointing across the Taiwan Strait.

Both Taiwan – official name the Republic of China – and mainland China – official name the People’s Republic of China – have claimed to be the genuine Chinese government since the 1949 revolution, which left the Chiang Kai-Shek’s Kuomintang in control of the large offshore island.

Beijing refers to Taiwan as "Chinese Taipei".

Despite its historic enmity with the Communist Party in control in Beijing, the KMT has favoured closer ties with the mainland, while its principal opponent, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has often veered towards official independence, including backing a bid for United Nations membership as Taiwan.

Ma beat off a challenge from DPP candidate Tsai Ing-wen, who had hoped to be the counrty’s first-ever female president.

Tsai conceded defeat on Saturday and announced that she would stand down as DPP chair.

A third candidate, former KMT heavyweight James Soong, had threatened to steal support from Ma.

The incumbent benefited from the support of an estimated 200,000 Taiwanese businesspeople working in China and their families, who returned home to vote.

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