© Reuters. People wait for the opening of the polling station to cast their vote, in Taipei, Taiwan January 13, 2024. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
By Yimou Lee and James Pomfret
TAIPEI (Reuters) -Taiwanese voters swept the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) presidential candidate Lai Ching-te into power on Saturday in an explicit rejection of China’s warnings not to vote for him in an election Beijing framed as a choice between war and peace.
Current Vice President Lai’s DPP, which champions Taiwan’s separate identity and rejects China’s territorial claims, was seeking a third term, unprecedented under Taiwan’s current electoral system.
Lai was facing two opponents for the presidency – Hou Yu-ih of Taiwan’s largest opposition party the Kuomintang (KMT) and former Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je of the small Taiwan People’s Party, only founded in 2019. Both conceded defeat.
Lai was due to speak to reporters at 8:30 p.m. (1230 GMT) in Taipei.
In the run-up to the election, China denounced Lai as a dangerous separatist, saying that any moves towards Taiwan’s formal independence meant war, and rebuffed Lai’s calls for talks.
Lai says he is committed to preserving peace and the status quo across the Taiwan Strait and boosting the island’s defences.