Tsai: Taiwan’s 2020 election will be a test of democracy

Tsai Ing-wen delivers her victory speech during a news conference in Taipei, Taiwan, on Jan 16, 2016. (Bloomberg pic) 

TAIPEI: Taiwan’s presidential election next year will be a test of its democracy and value system, President Tsai Ing-wen said at the end of a US trip that drew rebuke from China.

“Voters in Taiwan will be focused on the future of our country, especially whether we can keep our democratic and freedom way of life,” she said at a press conference in Denver on Saturday, and televised at the Presidential Office in Taipei.

Seeking a second term, Tsai will face Kuomintang nominee Han Kuo-yu – a firebrand mayor who advocates closer ties with China – in the election on Jan 11.

She, on the other hand, dismisses Beijing’s claims to sovereignty over Taiwan and has strengthened the island’s informal alliance with America.

The president has also sought to bolster Taiwan’s defence capabilities against a potential Chinese invasion with a series of military-hardware purchases.

Taiwan and China have been governed separately since 1949, and only 17 countries have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party advocates formalizing Taiwan’s independence.

Tsai stopped over in Denver after an official trip to four Caribbean countries that have diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

She was also in New York City before visiting Haiti, St. Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent & the Grenadines and Saint Lucia.