China paints DPP election rout as rejection of Taiwan independence

China paints DPP election rout as rejection of Taiwan independence

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen announces her resignation as chairwoman of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) after local elections in Taipei, Taiwan November 24, 2018.

The DPP has now been left in control of only six of Taiwan's cities and counties, compared with at least 15 for the China-friendly Kuomintang party.

Gay rights activists had proposed that the Civil Code should give same-sex couples equal marriage rights, but only garnered three million votes.

Observers agreed Tsai's re-election prospects had been severely weakened although some said she still had a chance to run, in the absence of an obvious successor. "But I would like to say to all DPP comrades and supporters, we have to stick to doing what is right".

"They want to see their purchasing power increase and their government to show more competence".

"The Tsai administration's pro-independence secessionism has not only soured its crucial relations with the Chinese mainland, but also made it unpopular on either side".

On Saturday, the ruling DPP lost mayoral elections in the significant cities of Taichung and Kaohsiung, the latter of which it had kept as a stronghold for the last 20 years. But the Nationalists won just six of the mayoral and magistrate seats in the 2014 local races as voters rejected their close ties with China.

Beijing has been ratcheting up pressure on the island it claims as its own territory by poaching its diplomatic partners and barring its representatives from worldwide gatherings, while staging threatening military exercises and limiting the numbers of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan.

Asked to comment on whether the results will change Beijing's Taiwan policy, Chang Wu-ueh (張五岳), a professor of China Studies at New Taipei-based Tamkang University, predicted that there will be no major changes for the time being.

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Social media posts said to be "fake news" have included photos of discarded bananas and pineapples which were framed as proof the government did not care about farmers, as well as posts which suggested Taiwan had failed to get its citizens out of Japan after a typhoon - a senior Taiwan official in Osaka committed suicide after the reports.

Yu Keli, a former director of the Taiwan research center at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, noted that the election results will affect future Taiwan-China relationships.

Tsai also needs to appease pro-independence factions in her own party who dislike her official stance which seeks to maintain the cross-strait "status quo".

The news will come as a major blow to LGBT activists throughout the region.

"I'm afraid it will be a big challenge for her in 2020", said Gratiana Jung, senior political researcher with the Yuanta-Polaris Research Institute think tank in Taipei.

"There's nothing wrong with loving someone of the same sex", he told AFP.

Others said they sided with "pro-family" groups.

"The ones opposing us are getting fewer and fewer", he told Reuters.

Voters faced lengthy queues as they dealt with complex ballots which featured 10 referendums - including pro and anti-gay marriage votes and a bid to change the name under which Taiwan competes at worldwide sports events that has already angered China.

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