Taipei, Feb 19 (IANS) Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Tuesday said that she will run for re-election as the island’s leader in 2020, despite her flagging popularity and growing hostility from Beijing.
Tsai revealed her plans in an exclusive interview with CNN while aboard her presidential plane, saying she wanted to “complete” her vision for Taiwan.
“It’s natural that any sitting president wants to do more for the country and wants to finish things on his or her agenda,” she said.
Tsai was the first woman to be elected leader of the self-governed democratic island in 2016, sweeping to power amid promises to overhaul the economy and lessen Taiwan’s reliance on mainland China.
But two years later, her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) suffered major losses during local elections in 2018, prompting her to resign as chairwoman of the party.
Across the island, her party lost by almost 10 per cent of the vote.
Since then, she has faced calls from senior members of her own party to not seek re-election.
But despite the criticism, Tsai told CNN that she was “confident” in her ability to win.
“This is something I have prepared for… It’s again another challenge. Being President, you’re not short of challenges. At good times you have challenges of one sort, and in bad times you have challenges of another sort.”
Despite being self-governed since 1949, Beijing still views Taiwan as a renegade province and part of the People’s Republic of China.
Tsai’s predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou, forged close ties with Beijing and even met Chinese President Xi Jinping in a historic 2016 meeting in Singapore.
In a speech last month, Xi made a renewed call for Taiwan to rejoin mainland China, asking it to embrace “peaceful reunification” and warning independence was a “dead end”.
But in her New Year’s address, Tsai told Beijing to “face the reality of the existence of the Republic of China”, the official name of Taiwan.