Kaohsiung mayor Han Kuo-yu wins KMT ticket to challenge Tsai Ing-wen for Taiwan presidency

16-Jul-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Kaohsiung mayor Han Kuo-yu has won the Kuomintang nomination to run for the Taiwan presidency after two months of bitterly contested primaries that have threatened to divide the main opposition party.

Han, who has been mayor for only seven months, defeated Foxconn’s billionaire founder Terry Gou Tai-ming and three other contenders to emerge on Monday as the winner of the race, determined by public opinion surveys carried out in the past seven days.

He was backed by 44.8 per cent, ahead of Gou in second place with 27.7 per cent, KMT vice-chair Tseng Yung-chuan announced.

Former New Taipei mayor Eric Chu Li-luan was third with 17.9 per cent, followed by former Taipei county magistrate Chou Hsi-wei on 6 per cent and Kuomintang’s (KMT’s) Sun Yat-sen School president Chang Ya-chung on 3.5 per cent.

Tseng told a news conference in Taipei the result would be sent to the KMT central standing committee to confirm Han’s nomination as its candidate.

The five had engaged in fierce campaigning since May, with Gou seen as Han’s closest challenger. In the latter part of the race, Gou hinted in an appearance on Taiwanese television that he might quit the party to run for president independently, as someone had advised him to do which would threaten to divide the Beijing-friendly KMT and undermine its chances of success in the presidential poll in January.

Han will now represent the KMT to challenge incumbent Tsai Ing-wen, of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party. He became mayor of Kaohsiung a pro-independence stronghold in southern Taiwan in last November’s local government elections, when he helped the KMT regain control of 15 of the self-ruled island’s 22 cities and counties.

Observers said it would be an uphill battle against Tsai, whose popularity which fell to a low of 18 per cent after November’s local polls has been rising steadily. She has been regarded in recent months as the only leader in Taiwan prepared to counter Beijing, which views the island as a renegade province to be reunited with the mainland by force if necessary.

Tsai won support from the public after she sternly rejected a proposal in January by mainland Chinese President Xi Jinping for Taipei and Beijing to discuss unification, with “one country, two systems” applied in Hong Kong and Macau cited as a model.

Various opinion polls have shown Tsai is leading Han, in a reversal of previous polls that had the mayor leading by a wide margin.



Category: Taiwan

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