|President of the Republic of China|
20 May 2016
|Vice President||Chen Chien-jen|
|Preceded by||Ma Ying-jeou|
|Chairperson of the Democratic Progressive Party|
28 May 2014
|Preceded by||Su Tseng-chang|
27 April 2011 – 14 January 2012
|Preceded by||Ker Chien-ming (Acting)|
|Succeeded by||Chen Chu (Acting)|
20 May 2008 – 17 March 2011
|Preceded by||Frank Hsieh (Acting)|
|Succeeded by||Ker Chien-ming (Acting)|
|Vice Premier of the Republic of China|
25 January 2006 – 21 May 2007
|Preceded by||Wu Rong-i|
|Succeeded by||Chiou I-jen|
|Member of the Legislative Yuan|
1 February 2005 – 24 January 2006
|Constituency||Republic of China|
|Minister of the Mainland Affairs Council|
20 May 2000 – 20 May 2004
|Preceded by||Su Chi|
|Succeeded by||Joseph Wu|
31 August 1956 |
|Political party||Independent (Before 2004)
Democratic Progressive Party (2004–present)
|Residence||Presidential Office Building|
|Alma mater||National Taiwan University
London School of Economics
Tsai Ing-wen (Chinese: 蔡英文; pinyin: Cài Yīngwén; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Chhoà Eng-bûn; born 31 August 1956) is a Taiwanese politician currently serving as the President of the Republic of China. Tsai is the first woman elected to the office. She is also the first president to be of Hakka and aboriginal descent (a quarter Paiwan from her grandmother); the first unmarried president; the first to have never held an elected executive post before presidency; and the first to be popularly elected without having previously served as the Mayor of Taipei. She is the incumbent chairperson of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), and was the party's presidential candidate in the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections. Tsai previously served as party chair from 2008 to 2012.
Tsai graduated in law and was subsequently a university professor. From 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 served as Minister of the Mainland Affairs Council throughout Chen's first term as a non-partisan. She joined DPP in 2004 and served briefly as a DPP-nominated at-large 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, but was elected by a landslide four years later in the 6th direct presidential election in 2016.
Tsai was born in Zhongshan District, Taipei, Taiwan, on 31 August 1956, the youngest of nine children in her family. Her given name, Ing-wen (英文), literally translated as "English language". She studied law at the behest of her father. After graduating at the College of Law, National Taiwan University, in 1978, Tsai obtained a Master of Laws at Cornell University Law School in 1980 and then a Ph.D. in law at the London School of Economics (1984). Upon her return to Taiwan, she taught law at the School of Law of Soochow University and National Chengchi University, both in Taipei.
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–present
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 January 16, 2016, she won the election by a landslide, winning 56.12% of votes, beating her opponent Eric Chu, who won 31.07% of the votes.
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 nationwide 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||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||Lin Ruey-shiung||369,588||2.77%|
On February 15, 2015, Tsai officially registered for the Democratic Progressive Party's presidential nomination primary. Though William Lai and Su Tseng-chang were seen as likely opponents, Tsai was the only candidate to run in the primary and the DPP officially nominated her as the presidential candidate on April 15. 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. In her speech addressing Taiwanese diaspora on the east coast of the United States, Tsai signaled a willingness to cooperate with the rising Third Party coalition in Taiwan in the incoming general election. On November 14, Tsai's campaign announced that she had chosen Chen Chien-jen as DPP vice presidential candidate. On January 16, 2016, Tsai won the presidential election, beating her opponent Eric Chu by a margin of 25.04%. Tsai was inaugurated as president on May 20, 2016.
|Democratic Progressive Party||Tsai Ing-wen||Chen Chien-jen||6,894,744||56.12%|
|Kuomintang||Eric Chu||Wang Ju-hsuan||3,813,365||31.04%|
|People First Party||James Soong||Hsu Hsin-ying||1,576,861||12.84%|
The DPP's traditional position on the issue of cross-strait relations is that the Republic of China, widely known as "Taiwan", is already an independent state governing the territories of Kinmen, Matsu, Penghu Islands, and the island of Taiwan, thus rendering a formal declaration of independence unnecessary. While Tsai has never departed fundamentally from the party line, her personal approach to the issue is nuanced and evolving.
During the 2012 presidential election cycle, Tsai said that she disagreed with the 1992 Consensus as the basis for negotiations between Taiwan and mainland China, that such a consensus only served to buttress the "One China Principle", and that "no such consensus exists" because the majority of the Taiwanese public does not necessarily agree with this consensus. She believed that broad consultations should be held at all levels of Taiwanese society to decide the basis on which to advance negotiations with Beijing, dubbed the "Taiwan consensus". During the 2016 election cycle, Tsai was notably more moderate, making "maintaining the status quo" the centerpiece of party policy. She vowed to work within the Republic of China governing framework in addition to preserving the progress made in cross-strait relations by previous governments, while preserving "freedom and democracy" for the residents of Taiwan.
Tsai believes in the importance of economic and trade links with mainland China, but publicly spoke out against the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), a preferential trade agreement that increased economic links between Taiwan and mainland China. She generally supports the diversification of Taiwan's economic partners.
Tsai has traditionally been supportive of disadvantaged groups in society, including the poor, women and children, Taiwanese aborigines, and LGBT groups. She favours government action to reduce unemployment, introducing incentives for entrepreneurship among youth, expanding public housing, and government-mandated childcare support. She supports government transparency and more prudent and discipline fiscal management.
Tsai advocated for the non-partisanship of the president of the Legislative Yuan, the increase in the number of "at-large" seats in the legislature, the broadening of participation among all political parties and interest groups. She supports proactively repairing the damage done to Taiwanese aboriginal groups, as well as the government actions in the February 28 Incident and during the phase of White Terror. She has also called for the de-polarization of Taiwanese politics, and advocates for a more open and consensus-based approach to addressing issues and passing legislation.
Tsai has shown her support for LGBT rights and endorsed same-sex marriage. On August 21, 2015, which is the Qixi Festival (comparable to Valentine's Day), she released a campaign video in which three same-sex couples actors appeared. On 31 October 2015, when the biggest gay pride parade in Asia was held in Taipei, Tsai expressed her support for same-sex marriage. She posted a 15-second video on her Facebook page saying "I am Tsai Ing-wen, and I support marriage equality” and "Let everyone be able to freely love and pursue happiness”.
Family and personal life
Tsai's paternal grandfather, of Hakka descent, came from a prominent family in Fenggang, Fangshan, Pingtung, while her grandmother, from Shizi, Pingtung, was of aboriginal Paiwan descent. Tsai's father, Tsai Jie-sheng (蔡潔生) owned a car repair business. Tsai's mother, is Chang Jin-feng (張金鳳). Tsai is unmarried and has no children.
According to the traditional Chinese naming practice, Tsai's name would have been 蔡瀛文, since her generation name is 瀛 (yíng), not 英 (yīng). However, her father believed the former to have too many strokes, so she was instead named 英文, which can be literally translated by its individual parts as "heroic" and "literature; culture" and as a whole as "the English language".
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