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Taiwan opposition gains control of Taipei in defeat of President Tsai


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© Reuters. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen attends a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) campaign rally ahead of local elections, in Taipei, Taiwan November 25, 2022. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

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By Sarah Wu and Yimou Lee

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan’s main opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT) took control of Taipei’s mayor on Saturday in a defeat for President Tsai Ing-wen, who has framed the local elections to show a defiance to China’s growing belligerence.

Elections for mayors, county chiefs and local councilors are ostensibly about domestic issues like the COVID-19 pandemic and crime, and those elected will not have a direct say in policy of China.

But Tsai Ing-wen, leader of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), saw the election as more than a local vote, saying the world was watching how Taiwan defends democracy. amid military tensions with China, which claims the island as its territory.

Both the DPP and the KMT, traditionally advocating close ties with China despite denying being pro-Beijing, have focused their campaign efforts on rich and populous northern Taiwan, especially the capital Taipei, whose mayor from the tiny Taiwan People’s Party is unable to run for re-election due to a term limit.

“I’ve let everyone down,” DPP Taipei mayoral candidate Chen Shih-chung told supporters, adding that he had sent “sincere” congratulations to Wayne Chiang of The Kuomintang in a phone call and urged people to continue to support Ms. Tsai.

China conducted drills near Taiwan in August to express anger over US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei, and its military activities have continued, albeit in smaller scale.

The Kuomintang swept up local elections in 2018, while accusing Tsai and the DPP of being overly confrontational with China.

Preliminary results show that the Kuomintang is leading in the majority of races for city mayor and county mayor across the island.

The election comes a month after the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, where President Xi Jinping won an unprecedented third term – a point Tsai has made repeatedly during the campaign. nominate.

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