Tsai Ing-wen

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This is a Chinese name; the family name is Tsai.
Tsai Ing-wen
Tsai Ing-Wen Cropped.png
Chairperson of the Democratic Progressive Party
Assumed office
28 May 2014
Preceded by Su Tseng-chang
In office
20 May 2008 – 14 January 2012
Preceded by Frank Hsieh (Acting)
Succeeded by Kiku Chen (Acting)
Vice Premier of the Republic of China
In office
25 January 2006 – 21 May 2007
Premier Su Tseng-chang
Preceded by Wu Rong-i
Succeeded by Chiou I-jen
Minister of the Mainland Affairs Council
In office
20 May 2000 – 20 May 2004
Premier Tang Fei
Chang Chun-hsiung
Yu Shyi-kun
Deputy Chen Ming-tong
Preceded by Su Chi
Succeeded by Joseph Wu
Personal details
Born 31 August 1956 (1956-08-31) (age 59)
Fangshan, Taiwan
Political party Democratic Progressive Party
Alma mater National Taiwan University
Cornell University
London School of Economics
Tsai Ing-wen
Chinese 蔡英文
Hokkien POJ Chhoà Eng-bûn

Tsai Ing-wen (born August 31, 1956 in Fangshan Township, Pingtung County, Taiwan) is a Taiwanese politician. She is the incumbent chairwoman of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), and the party's presidential candidate in 2016. 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.[1][2] 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 then 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.

Early career[edit]

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.[3]

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.[3] She also led the drafting team on the Statute Governing Relations with Hong Kong and Macau (港澳關係條例).[4][5]

Rise in politics[edit]

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.[6] 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.[7][8] She was later cleared of all alleged wrongdoing.[9]

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.[10]

On May 19, 2008, Tsai defeated Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏) in the election for DPP chairperson, and succeeded outgoing Frank Hsieh as the 12th-term chairperson of the party.

DPP Chairpersonship[edit]

First Term: 2008-2012[edit]

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.[11]

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.[12]

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.[13] The Clean Government Commission was set up to investigate corruption within the DPP.[14]

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.[15]

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.[16] 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;[17] 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".[17][18]

Tsai resigned as chairperson of the DPP after losing her 2012 presidential election bid to incumbent Ma Ying-jeou.[19]

Second Term: 2014-[edit]

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.[20] 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.[21][22]

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.[23]

Presidential campaigns[edit]


On March 11, 2011, Tsai Ing-wen officially announced her run for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Progressive Party.[24] 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 nationwide phone poll (of more than 15,000 samples) that served as the party's primary.[25] 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.[26] Garnering 45% of the vote, she conceded defeat to President Ma in an international press conference, resigning her seat as Chairman of the DPP.[27]

e • d Summary of the 14 January 2012 Republic of China presidential election results
Party Candidate Votes Percentage
President Vice president
Emblem of the Kuomintang.svg Kuomintang Ma Ying-jeou (incumbent) Wu Den-yih 6,891,139 51.60%
Green Taiwan in White Cross.svg Democratic Progressive Party Tsai Ing-wen Su Jia-chyuan 6,093,578 45.63%
LogoPFP.svg People First Party James Soong Chu-yu Lin Ruey-shiung 369,588 2.77%
Total 13,354,305 100%


On February 15, 2015, Tsai officially registered for the Democratic Progressive Party's presidential nomination primary.[28] She was the only candidate to run in the primary[29] and the DPP officially nominated her as the presidential candidate on April 15.[30] During summer of 2015, Tsai embarked on a visit to the United States and met a number of US policy makers including Senators John McCain and Jack Reed.[31] In her speech addressing Taiwanese diaspora in east coast United States, Tsai signaled a willingness to cooperate with the rising Third Party coalition in Taiwan in the incoming general election.[32]


  1. ^ "Profile: Tsai Ing-wen". BBC. 12 January 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  2. ^ Ing-Wen Tsai PhD. "Ing-Wen Tsai: Executive Profile & Biography - BusinessWeek". Investing.businessweek.com. Retrieved 2012-02-13. 
  3. ^ a b Copper, John F. (2012). The KMT Returns to Power. Lexington Books. p. 188. ISBN 9780739174784. 
  4. ^ "Tsai Criticizes "One Country, Two Areas" Now, But Used To Advocate "One Country, Four Areas"". United Daily News (Koumintang News Network). 26 March 2012. Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  5. ^ Tsai, Ing-wen; Wortzel, Larry (14 January 2002). "A New Era in Cross-Strait Relations? Taiwan and China in the WTO". Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  6. ^ "Taiwan's new premier picks tough strategist as deputy in limited Cabinet reshuffle" (Press release). The China Post. 2007-05-17. Retrieved 2008-05-22. 
  7. ^ "Taiwan DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen strongly defends integrity in biotech investment case". Taiwan News. 16 December 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  8. ^ Wang, Chris (22 December 2011). "2012 ELECTIONS: Yu Chang papers altered twice: DPP". Taipei Times. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  9. ^ Chang, Rich (15 August 2012). "Tsai cleared of Yu Chang allegations". Taipei Times. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  10. ^ "又傳創意組合 蔡英文會是馬英九副手搭檔?". China Review News (crntt.com). 1 June 2007. Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  11. ^ "New DPP chief bothered by what Ma did not say" (Press release). Taipei Times. 2008-05-22. Retrieved 2008-05-22. 
  12. ^ "Tsai rejects independence criticism" (Press release). Taipei Times. 2008-06-04. Retrieved 2008-06-03. 
  13. ^ Bruyas, Dimitri (16 August 2008). "Disgraced Chen quits the DPP". China Post. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  14. ^ Young, David (15 October 2008). "Chen Shui-bian checkmates DPP chair". China Post. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  15. ^ "Taiwan president and opposition debate China deal" (Press release). Bloomberg BusinessWeek. 2010-04-25. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  16. ^ DPP sweeps both seats in legislative by-elections
  17. ^ a b 10 October 2011, KMT blasts Tsai Ing-wen for flip-flop on R.O.C., Taiwan News
  18. ^ 10 October 2011, DPP chair attends flag-raising ceremony in southern Taiwan, Focus Taiwan News
  19. ^ "Tsai steps down as DPP chair after election defeat" Focus Taiwan News Channel. Retrieved 2012.01.14
  20. ^ "Taiwan's Tsai Ing-wen announces bid for DPP chairperson". Xinhua News Agency. March 15, 2014. Retrieved March 15, 2014. 
  21. ^ Wang, Chris (26 May 2014). "Tsai Ing-wen elected as DPP chair". Taipei Times. Retrieved 1 June 2014. 
  22. ^ Chang, Jung-hsiang; Hsu, Elizabeth (May 25, 2014). "Tsai Ing-wen wins DPP chair election (update)". Central News Agency. Retrieved June 2, 2014. 
  23. ^ Loa, Iok-sin (15 February 2015). "Tsai Ing-wen declares candidacy". Taipei Times. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  24. ^ Chao, Vincent Y. (12 March 2011). "Tsai Ing-wen officially launches presidential bid". Taipei Times. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  25. ^ Sui, Cindy (27 April 2011). "Taiwan's first female presidential candidate picked". BBC. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  26. ^ Mozur, Paul (28 April 2011). "Taiwan Opposition Makes Its Pick". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2 January 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  27. ^ Wang, Chris (15 January 2012). "2012 ELECTIONS: Tsai’s defeat surprisingly large". Taipei Times. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  28. ^ Loa, Iok-sin (16 February 2015). "Tsai Ing-wen makes bid official". Taipei Times. Retrieved 16 February 2015. 
  29. ^ Lu, Hsin-hui; Kao, Evelyn (April 14, 2015). "DPP to nominate chairwoman to run for president in 2016". Central News Agency. Retrieved April 15, 2015. 
  30. ^ Yeh, Sophia; Wang, Flor (April 15, 2015). "Tsai Ing-wen to run for president as DPP's candidate". Central News Agency. Retrieved April 15, 2015. 
  31. ^ Fuchs, Chris (June 7, 2015). "Contributing reporter". Taipei Times (Taipei Times). Retrieved 8 June 2015. 
  32. ^ Loa, Lok-sin (2015-06-07). "Tsai signals more space for third-party hopefuls". Taipei Times (Taipei Times). Taipei Times. Retrieved 8 June 2015. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Su Chi
Minister of the Mainland Affairs Council
Succeeded by
Joseph Wu
Preceded by
Wu Rong-i
Vice Premier of the Republic of China
Succeeded by
Chiou I-jen
Party political offices
Preceded by
Frank Hsieh
Leader of the Democratic Progressive Party
Succeeded by
Kiku Chen
Preceded by
Su Tseng-chang
Leader of the Democratic Progressive Party