Taiwan’s opposition leader Tsai Ing-wen wins presidential election

Taiwan’s independence-leaning opposition leader Tsai Ing-wen won the island’s presidential election on Saturday after the ruling party admitted defeat.

“Eric Chu disappointed everyone. We lost. The Nationalists have been defeated,” Nationalist presidential candidate Chu said, surrounded by somber-looking supporters, some in tears, adding he had also resigned as party chairman.

Outside DPP headquarters, supporters also cried, but for joy.

Tsai will be thrust into one of Asia’s toughest and most dangerous jobs, with China pointing hundreds of missiles at the island, decades after losing Nationalists fled from Mao Zedong’s Communists to Taiwan in the Chinese civil war.

In a statement carried by state media earlier in the day, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office repeated it would not get involved in the election, saying only that it was “paying attention to across the Taiwan Strait”.

The election comes at a tricky time for Taiwan’s export-dependent economy, which slipped into recession in the third quarter last year. China is also Taiwan’s top trading partner and Taiwan’s favorite investment destination.