21 May, 2016, 12:00 am
TAIPEI – Tsai Ing-wen is to be inaugurated Taiwan’s first woman president on Friday, with the export-driven economy on the ropes and wary Communist Party rulers in China watching for any move towards independence by an island it considers its own.
Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won parliamentary and presidential elections by a landslide in January on voter backlash against creeping dependence on China. There were massive protests in 2014 against a trade pact with China that the previous government had sought to push through.
The DPP, which has traditionally favoured independence from China, takes over after eight years under China-friendly Nationalist Ma Ying-jeou.
Tsai’s inauguration speech at 11.10 am (0310 GMT) will be widely watched for any hint of anti-China sentiment, which could sour economic ties further.
“The favourable interaction will be broken,” said Chang An-lo, a pro-unification leader, rallying about 400 supporters outside the DPP headquarters this week.
China has not ruled out using force to bring Taiwan under its control. It is deeply distrustful of the DPP, whose charter includes a clause promoting “a sovereign and independent Republic of Taiwan”.