Taiwan opposition leader Tsai wins vote, becomes first woman president

  •  Independence-leaning DPP party wins presidential vote
  •  Taiwan's relations with China, weak economy seen as key factors
  •  China says "paying attention" to events

Tsai risks antagonising China if she attempts to forcefully assert Taiwan's sovereignty and reverses eight years of warming China ties under incumbent President Ma Ying-jeou of the Nationalists, whose forces retreated to Taiwan in 1949.

There was no immediate reaction from Beijing.

In a statement carried by state media earlier in the day, China's Taiwan Affairs Office repeated it would not get involved in the election, saying only that it was "paying attention to across the Taiwan Strait".

A 16-year-old Taiwan singer with a South Korean girl band inadvertently shot to the top of the election agenda on polling day after she publicly apologised for holding a Taiwan flag, prompting China and Taiwan to trade accusations.

FACTBOX:Taiwan joins small band of women world leaders

The election comes at a tricky time for Taiwan's export-dependent economy, which slipped into recession in the third quarter last year. China is also Taiwan's top trading partner and Taiwan's favourite investment destination.

Support for the DPP has swelled since 2014, when hundreds of students occupied Taiwan's parliament for weeks in the largest display of anti-China sentiment the island had seen in years.

Tsai has the tide of history against her. Ma and his predecessors all failed to bring about a lasting reconciliation with China, which considers Taiwan a rogue province to be taken by force if necessary.

Shots were traded between the two sides as recently as the mid-1970s.

At stake are relations with an ascendant and increasingly assertive China under President Xi Jinping.


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