|Chairperson of the Democratic Progressive Party|
28 May 2014
|Preceded by||Su Tseng-chang|
20 May 2008 – 14 January 2012
|Preceded by||Frank Hsieh (Acting)|
|Succeeded by||Kiku Chen (Acting)|
|Vice Premier of the Republic of China|
25 January 2006 – 21 May 2007
|Preceded by||Wu Rong-i|
|Succeeded by||Chiou I-jen|
|Minister of the Mainland Affairs Council of the Executive Yuan of the Republic of China|
20 May 2000 – 20 May 2004
|Preceded by||Su Chi|
|Succeeded by||Joseph Wu|
|Born||31 August 1956 (age 58)
|Political party||Democratic Progressive Party|
|Alma mater||National Taiwan University
London School of Economics
Tsai Ing-wen (born August 31, 1956 in Fangshan Township, Pingtung County, Taiwan) is a Taiwanese politician who currently serves as the chair of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Tsai previously served as chair from 2008 to 2012, and was the party's presidential candidate in 2012.
Having studied in Taiwan, the U.S and the U.K., Tsai earned an LL.B. from National Taiwan University, an LL.M. from Cornell University Law School and a PhD from the London School of Economics. Tsai held professorial positions at several universities upon returning from her study abroad in 1984. Starting 1993, she was appointed to a series of governmental positions by the then-ruling Kuomintang (KMT) and was one of the chief drafters of the Special state-to-state relations doctrine of President Lee Teng-hui.
After DPP President Chen Shui-bian took office in 2000, Tsai was invited to serve as Minister of the Mainland Affairs Council throughout Chen's first term as a non-partisan. She became a DPP member in 2004 and served briefly as a DPP-listed non-constituency member of the Legislative Yuan. From there, she was appointed Vice Premier under Premier Su Tseng-chang until the cabinet's mass resignation in 2007. She was elected and assumed DPP chairpersonship in 2008, following her party's defeat in the 2008 presidential election. She resigned as chairperson after losing her 2012 presidential election bid.
Tsai ran for New Taipei City mayorship in the November 2010 municipal elections but was defeated by another former vice premier, Eric Chu (KMT). In April 2011, Tsai became the first female presidential candidate of a major party in the history of the Republic of China after defeating her former superior, Su Tseng-chang, in the DPP's primary by a slight margin. She was defeated by incumbent Kuomintang candidate Ma Ying-jeou in the 5th direct presidential election in 2012.
Born of Hakka origin in Pingtung County, Tsai moved to Taipei at the age of 11. After graduating from the College of Law at National Taiwan University in 1978, she obtained a Master of Laws from Cornell University Law School in 1980 and then a PhD in law from the London School of Economics (1984). Upon her return to Taiwan, she taught law at Soochow University and National Chengchi University both in Taipei, Taiwan.
She was also appointed to the Fair Trade Commission and the Copyright Commission. She served as consultant for the Mainland Affairs Council and the National Security Council. She also led the drafting team on the Statute Governing Relations with Hong Kong and Macau (港澳關係條例).
Rise in politics
In 2000, Tsai was given the high-profile appointment of chairperson of the Mainland Affairs Council. Confirming the widely held belief that she maintained pan-green sympathies, Tsai joined the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in 2004. She was subsequently nominated by the DPP to be a candidate in the 2004 legislative election and was elected as a legislator-at-large.
On January 26, 2006, Tsai was appointed to the post of vice president of the Executive Yuan, a position commonly referred to as vice premier. She concurrently served as chairwoman of the Consumer Protection Commission.
On May 17, 2007, Tsai, along with the rest of the cabinet of out-going Premier Su Tseng-chang, resigned to make way for incoming Premier Chang Chun-hsiung and his cabinet. Premier Chang named Chiou I-jen, the incumbent secretary-general of the Presidential Office to replace Tsai as vice premier. She then served as the chair of TaiMedBiologics, a biotechnology company based in Taiwan. The Kuomintang accused Tsai of contracting government work out to TaiMedBiologics during her term as vice premier, while planning to leave the government and lead the company afterward. She was later cleared of all alleged wrongdoing.
In Kuomintang candidate Ma Ying-jeou's search for his running mate for the 2008 ROC presidential election, Tsai, a DPP member, was surprisingly suggested. Ma stated that there were no set criteria for a running mate, that his search would not be defined by gender, occupation, or even political party affiliations.
First Term: 2008-2012
Tsai took office on May 20, 2008, the same day Ma Ying-jeou was inaugurated as president. She said that DPP would work to deepen the Taiwanese localization movement while defending social justice. She criticized Ma for mentioning closer Cross-Strait relations but nothing about Taiwan's sovereignty and national security.
Tsai questioned Ma's stand on Taiwan's sovereign status. Ma emphasized the importance of the so-called 1992 Consensus and called Tsai an Taiwan independence extremist. Tsai criticized Ma's government for not answering her question and labeling others.
After former President Chen Shui-bian's acknowledgment of transferring past campaign funds overseas, Tsai apologized to the public and also said that the DPP would not try to cover up for Chen's alleged misdeeds. The Clean Government Commission was set up to investigate corruption within the DPP.
On April 25, 2010, Tsai participated in a televised debate against President and Kuomintang chairman Ma Ying-jeou over a proposed trade deal with China. While President Ma believed that the agreement with mainland China, called the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), would increase Taiwanese exports to China and lower unemployment rates, Tsai said it "will force Taiwan to open up for cheap Chinese exports eventually" and certain domestic industries will be harmed by the mainland trade invasion. Tsai also said that the pact "will make Taiwan lose its independence in cross-strait relations and become a Chinese parasite" and that Taiwan should negotiate with China under the multilateral-framework World Trade Organization, which would offer more trade protections and emphasize Taiwan's distinct status.
Under Tsai's leadership, along with some of KMT's unpopular policies, the DPP has been regaining momentum in elections since 2009, after the major defeats from 2006 to 2008. In 2010, she was re-elected as the chairperson of the DPP.
Tsai made a controversial statement in May 2010 claiming that the Republic of China was a "government-in-exile" non-native to Taiwan; however on 8 October 2011, two days prior to the 100-year anniversary celebrations of the Double Ten Day, Tsai changed her statement, stating that "The ROC is Taiwan, Taiwan is the ROC, and the current ROC government is no longer ruled by a non-native political power".
Second Term: 2014-
On March 15, 2014, Tsai announced that she would once more run for party chief of the DPP against incumbent Su Tseng-chang and Frank Hsieh. However, both Su and Hsieh dropped out of the election in the aftermath of the Sunflower Student Movement. Tsai defeated Kaohsiung County deputy commissioner Kuo Tai-lin by 79,676 votes.
Tsai led the DPP to a historic victory in the local elections held on November 29, 2014, in which the party secured leadership of 13 of Taiwan's 22 municipalities and counties. The DPP's stunning victory in the elections strengthened Tsai's position within the party and placed her as the front-runner in the 2016 Presidential Elections; she announced her second bid for the Presidency on February 15, 2015.
On March 11, 2011, Tsai Ing-wen officially announced her run for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Progressive Party. On April 27, 2011, Tsai became the first female presidential candidate in Taiwan after she defeated former Premier Su Tseng-chang by a small margin in a nation-wide phone poll (of more than 15,000 samples) that served as the party's primary. Tsai ran against incumbent President Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang and James Soong of the People First Party in the 5th direct presidential election, which was held on January 14, 2012. Garnering 45% of the vote, she conceded defeat to President Ma in an international press conference, resigning her seat as Chairman of the DPP.
|Kuomintang||Ma Ying-jeou (incumbent)||Wu Den-yih||6,891,139||51.60%|
|Democratic Progressive Party||Tsai Ing-wen||Su Jia-chyuan||6,093,578||45.63%|
|People First Party||James Soong Chu-yu||Lin Ruey-shiung||369,588||2.77%|
On February 15, 2015, Tsai officially registered for the Democratic Progressive Party's presidential nomination primary. She was the only candidate to run in the primary and the DPP officially nominated her as the presidential candidate on April 15.
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|Minister of the Mainland Affairs Council
|Vice Premier of the Republic of China
|Party political offices|
|Leader of the Democratic Progressive Party
|Leader of the Democratic Progressive Party