Tsai Ing-wen

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Tsai Ing-wen
Tsai in 2016
President of the Republic of China
Assumed office
20 May 2016
PremierLin Chuan
Lai Ching-te
Su Tseng-chang
Vice PresidentChen Chien-jen
Lai Ching-te (elect)
Preceded byMa Ying-jeou
Chairwoman of the Democratic Progressive Party
In office
28 May 2014 – 24 November 2018
Preceded bySu Tseng-chang
Succeeded byLin Yu-chang (acting)
Cho Jung-tai
In office
27 April 2011 – 14 January 2012
Preceded byKer Chien-ming (Acting)
Succeeded byChen Chu (Acting)
In office
20 May 2008 – 17 March 2011
Preceded byFrank Hsieh (Acting)
Succeeded byKer Chien-ming (Acting)
Vice Premier of the Republic of China
In office
25 January 2006 – 21 May 2007
PremierSu Tseng-chang
Preceded byWu Rong-i
Succeeded byChiou I-jen
Member of the Legislative Yuan
In office
1 February 2005 – 24 January 2006
Succeeded byWu Ming-ming
Minister of the Mainland Affairs Council
In office
20 May 2000 – 20 May 2004
PremierTang Fei
Chang Chun-hsiung
Yu Shyi-kun
DeputyChen Ming-tong
Preceded bySu Chi
Succeeded byJoseph Wu
Personal details
Born (1956-08-31) 31 August 1956 (age 63)
Zhongshan, Taipei, Taiwan
Political partyDemocratic Progressive (2004–present)
Other political
Independent (before 2004)
ResidenceYonghe Residence
EducationNational Taiwan University (LLB)
Cornell University (LLM)
London School of Economics (PhD)
Chinese name
Hanyu PinyinCài Yīngwén

Tsai Ing-wen (Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Chhòa Eng-bûn, [t͡sʰua˧˩ ʔɪŋbun˨˦]; born 31 August 1956) is a Taiwanese politician and professor serving as the president of the Republic of China, commonly known as Taiwan, since 20 May 2016. The first woman to be elected to the office, Tsai is the seventh president of the Republic of China under the 1947 Constitution and the second president from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP); part of Taiwan's Pan-Green Coalition. She is also the first president to be of both Hakka and aboriginal descent (a quarter Paiwan from her grandmother),[1] the first unmarried president, the first to have never held an elected executive post before presidency and the first to be popularly elected without having previously served as the Mayor of Taipei. She was the Democratic Progressive Party candidate in the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections. Tsai previously served as party chair from 2008 to 2012, and from 2014 to 2018. She was re-elected for a second term on 11 January 2020 after emerging victorious in the presidential election.[2][3][4]

Tsai studied law and international trade, and later became a law professor at Soochow University School of Law and National Chengchi University after earning an LLB from National Taiwan University, an LLM from Cornell Law School and a Ph.D. in law from the London School of Economics and Political Science. In 1993, as an independent (without party affiliation), she was appointed to a series of governmental positions, including trade negotiator for WTO affairs, by the then-ruling Kuomintang (KMT) and was one of the chief drafters of the special state-to-state relations doctrine of then President Lee Teng-hui.

After DPP President Chen Shui-bian took office in 2000, Tsai served as Minister of the Mainland Affairs Council throughout Chen's first term as a non-partisan. She joined the DPP in 2004 and served briefly as a DPP-nominated at-large member of the Legislative Yuan. From there, she was appointed Vice Premier under Premier Su Tseng-chang until the cabinet's mass resignation in 2007. She was elected and assumed DPP leadership in 2008, following her party's defeat in the 2008 presidential election. She resigned as chair after losing her 2012 presidential election bid.

Tsai ran for New Taipei City mayorship in the November 2010 municipal elections but was defeated by another former vice premier, Eric Chu (KMT). In April 2011, Tsai became the first female presidential candidate of a major party in the history of the Republic of China after defeating her former superior, Su Tseng-chang, in the DPP's primary by a slight margin. She was defeated by incumbent Kuomintang candidate Ma Ying-jeou in the 5th direct presidential election in 2012, but was elected by a landslide four years later in the sixth direct presidential election in 2016. Tsai was re-elected as President of the Republic of China with an increased share of the vote in 2020.[5]

Early career

Tsai was born at Mackay Memorial Hospital in Zhongshan District, Taipei, Taiwan[6][7] on 31 August 1956,[8] the youngest of 11 children.[9][10][11] Her father, Tsai Chieh-sheng (1918–2006), was a businessman who ran an auto repair shop,[12] and her mother Chang Chin-fong (1925–2018) was a housewife.[citation needed] Her given name, Ing-wen (英文), was chosen by genealogical naming practices. While these suggested the spelling 瀛文, her father considered the character 瀛 too obscure, replacing it with the character 英.[13] The resulting name 英文 could be translated as "heroic literature" or "English language".[14] During her middle school period, she studied in Taipei Municipal Zhongshan Girls High School.[15] She studied law at the behest of her father.[16] After graduating at the College of Law, National Taiwan University, in 1978, Tsai obtained a Master of Laws at Cornell University Law School in 1980 and then a Ph.D. in law at the London School of Economics in 1984.[17][18] Upon her return to Taiwan, she taught law at the School of Law of Soochow University and National Chengchi University, both in Taipei.[19][20]

She was also appointed to the Fair Trade Commission and the Copyright Commission. She served as consultant for the Mainland Affairs Council and the National Security Council.[19] She also led the drafting team on the Statute Governing Relations with Hong Kong and Macau (Chinese: 港澳關係條例).[21][22]

Rise in politics

In 2000, Tsai was given the high-profile appointment of chair of the Mainland Affairs Council. Confirming the widely held belief that she maintained Pan-Green sympathies, Tsai joined the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in 2004.[8] She was subsequently nominated by the DPP to be a candidate in the 2004 legislative election and was elected as a legislator-at-large.

On 26 January 2006, Tsai was appointed to the post of vice president of the Executive Yuan, a position commonly referred to as vice premier. She concurrently served as chairwoman of the Consumer Protection Commission.

On 17 May 2007, Tsai, along with the rest of the cabinet of out-going Premier Su Tseng-chang, resigned to make way for incoming Premier Chang Chun-hsiung and his cabinet. Premier Chang named Chiou I-jen, the incumbent secretary-general of the Presidential Office to replace Tsai as vice premier.[23] She then served as the chair of TaiMedBiologics, a biotechnology company based in Taiwan. The Kuomintang accused Tsai of contracting government work out to TaiMedBiologics during her term as vice premier, while planning to leave the government and lead the company afterward.[24][25] She was later cleared of all alleged wrongdoing.[26]

In Kuomintang candidate Ma Ying-jeou's search for his running mate for the 2008 ROC presidential election, Tsai, a DPP member, was surprisingly suggested. Ma stated that there were no set criteria for a running mate, that his search would not be defined by gender, occupation, or even political party affiliations.[27]

On 19 May 2008, Tsai defeated Koo Kwang-ming in the election for DPP chair, and succeeded outgoing Frank Hsieh as the 12th-term chair of the party. She was the first woman to chair a major Taiwanese political party.

DPP chair

First term: 2008–2012

Tsai as the leader of the DPP participated in a rally hosted by the DPP in 2008.

Tsai took office on 20 May 2008, the same day Ma Ying-jeou was inaugurated as president. She said that DPP would work to deepen the Taiwanese localization movement while defending social justice. She criticized Ma for mentioning closer Cross-Strait relations but nothing about Taiwan's sovereignty and national security.[28]

Tsai questioned Ma's stand on Taiwan's sovereign status. Ma emphasized the importance of the so-called 1992 Consensus and called Tsai a Taiwan independence extremist. Tsai criticized Ma's government for not answering her question and labeling others.[29]

After former President Chen Shui-bian's acknowledgment of transferring past campaign funds overseas, Tsai apologized to the public and also said that the DPP would not try to cover up for Chen's alleged misdeeds.[30] The Clean Government Commission was set up to investigate corruption within the DPP.[31]

On 25 April 2010, Tsai participated in a televised debate against President and Kuomintang chairman Ma Ying-jeou over a proposed trade agreement, the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA); while President Ma believed ECFA would increase Taiwanese exports to mainland China and lower unemployment rates, Tsai said it "will force Taiwan to open up for cheap Chinese exports eventually" and certain domestic industries will be harmed by the mainland trade invasion. Tsai also said that the pact "will make Taiwan lose its independence in cross-strait relations and become a Chinese parasite" and that Taiwan should negotiate with China under the multilateral-framework World Trade Organization, which would offer more trade protections and emphasize Taiwan's distinct status.[32]

Under Tsai's leadership, along with some of KMT's unpopular policies, the DPP regained momentum in elections of 2009, after major defeats from 2006 to 2008.[33] In 2010, she was re-elected as the chair of the DPP.

Tsai made a controversial statement in May 2010 claiming that the Republic of China was a "government-in-exile" non-native to Taiwan;[34] however on 8 October 2011, two days prior to the 100-year anniversary celebrations of the Double Ten Day, Tsai changed her statement, stating that "The ROC is Taiwan, Taiwan is the ROC, and the current ROC government is no longer ruled by a non-native political power".[34][35]

Tsai resigned as chair of the DPP after losing her 2012 presidential election bid to incumbent Ma Ying-jeou.[36]

Second term: 2014–2018

On 15 March 2014, Tsai announced that she would once more run for party chief of the DPP against incumbent Su Tseng-chang and Frank Hsieh.[37] However, both Su and Hsieh dropped out of the election in the aftermath of the Sunflower Student Movement. Tsai defeated Kaohsiung County deputy commissioner Kuo Tai-lin by 79,676 votes.[38][39]

Tsai led the DPP to an historic victory in the local elections held on 29 November 2014, in which the party secured leadership of 13 of Taiwan's 22 municipalities and counties. The DPP's stunning victory in the elections strengthened Tsai's position within the party and placed her as the front-runner in the 2016 Presidential Elections; she announced her second bid for the Presidency on 15 February 2015.[40] On 16 January 2016, she won the election by a landslide, winning 56.12% of votes, beating her opponent Eric Chu, who won 31.07% of the votes.[41]

On 24 November 2018, she resigned as leader of the Democratic Progressive Party and refused Premier William Lai's resignation after a major defeat in local elections.[42]

Presidential campaigns


On 11 March 2011, Tsai Ing-wen officially announced her run for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Progressive Party.[43] On 27 April 2011, Tsai became the first female presidential candidate in Taiwan after she defeated former Premier Su Tseng-chang by a small margin in a nationwide phone poll (of more than 15,000 samples) that served as the party's primary.[44] Tsai ran against incumbent President Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang and James Soong of the People First Party in the 5th direct presidential election, which was held on 14 January 2012.[45] Garnering 45% of the vote, she conceded defeat to President Ma in an international press conference, resigning her seat as Chairman of the DPP.[46]

e • d Summary of the 2012 Taiwanese presidential election results
Party Candidate Votes Percentage
President Vice president
Kuomintang Ma Ying-jeou Wu Den-yih 6,891,139 51.60%
Democratic Progressive Party Tsai Ing-wen Su Jia-chyuan 6,093,578 45.63%
People First Party James Soong Lin Ruey-shiung 369,588 2.77%
Valid votes 13,354,305 99.27%
Invalid and blank votes 97,711 0.73%
Total votes 13,452,016 100%
Eligible voters and turnout 18,086,455 74.38%


Tsai's campaign headquarters in 2016
President Tsai and Paraguay's President Horacio Cartes in Taiwan, 20 May 2016

On 15 February 2015, Tsai officially registered for the Democratic Progressive Party's presidential nomination primary.[47] Though William Lai and Su Tseng-chang were seen as likely opponents,[48] Tsai was the only candidate to run in the primary and the DPP officially nominated her as the presidential candidate on 15 April.[49][50] She was the first-ever female candidate for President of Taiwan.

During summer of 2015, Tsai embarked on a visit to the United States and met a number of US policy makers including Senators John McCain and Jack Reed.[51] In her speech addressing Taiwanese diaspora on the east coast of the United States, Tsai signaled a willingness to cooperate with the rising Third Party coalition in Taiwan in the incoming general election.[52] On 14 November, Tsai's campaign announced that she had chosen Chen Chien-jen as DPP vice presidential candidate.[53] On 16 January 2016, Tsai won the presidential election, beating her opponent Eric Chu by a margin of 25.04%.[41] Tsai was inaugurated as president on 20 May 2016.

After her election, Tsai was named one of "The 100 Most Influential People" in TIME magazine 2 May 2016 issue.[54]

e • d Summary of the 2016 Taiwanese presidential election results
Party Candidate Votes Percentage
President Vice president
Democratic Progressive Party Tsai Ing-wen Chen Chien-jen 6,894,744 56.12%
Kuomintang Eric Chu Wang Ju-hsuan 3,813,365 31.04%
People First Party James Soong Hsu Hsin-ying 1,576,861 12.84%
Valid votes 12,284,970 98.69%
Invalid and blank votes 163,332 1.31%
Total votes 12,448,302 100%
Eligible voters and turnout 18,782,991 66.27%


President Tsai attends the 108 Anti-drug Responsible Persons Group in June 2019

Tsai announced on 19 February 2019 via an interview with CNN that she would run for reelection as president in 2020.[55][56] She registered to run in the Democratic Progressive Party presidential primary on 21 March 2019.[57] Tsai defeated William Lai in the primary, and the Democratic Progressive Party nominated her as its candidate for the 2020 presidential election on 19 June 2019.[58][59] Tsai and Lai formed the Democratic Progressive Party ticket on 17 November 2019.[60]

e • d Summary of the 2020 Taiwanese presidential election results
Party Candidate Votes Percentage
President Vice president
Democratic Progressive Party Tsai Ing-wen William Lai 8,170,231 57.13%
Kuomintang Daniel Han Simon Chang 5,522,119 38.61%
People First Party James Soong Sandra Yu 608,590 4.26%
Valid votes 14,300,940 98.87%
Invalid and blank votes 163,631 1.13%
Total votes 14,464,571 100%
Eligible voters and turnout 19,311,105 74.90%

Political positions

United States

President Tsai meets with Republican U.S. Senate delegation led by John McCain, 5 June 2016

Tsai supports strong and stable relationships between Taiwan (ROC) and the United States. In early December 2016, Tsai held an unprecedented telephone call with President-elect Donald Trump. This was the first time that the President of ROC spoke with the president or president-elect of the United States since 1979. Afterwards, she indicated there had been no major "policy shift".[61]

Cross-strait relations

Member of the House of Representatives of Japan Keiji Furuya and President Tsai, 20 May 2016

The DPP's traditional position on the issue of cross-strait relations is that the Republic of China, widely known as Taiwan, is already an independent state governing the territories of Kinmen, Matsu, Penghu Islands, and the island of Taiwan, thus rendering a formal declaration of independence unnecessary. While Tsai has never departed fundamentally from the party line, her personal approach to the issue is nuanced and evolving.[citation needed]

During the 2012 presidential election cycle, Tsai said that she disagreed with the 1992 Consensus as the basis for negotiations between Taiwan and mainland China, that such a consensus only served to buttress the "One China Principle", and that "no such consensus exists" because the majority of the Taiwanese public does not necessarily agree with this consensus. She believed that broad consultations should be held at all levels of Taiwanese society to decide the basis on which to advance negotiations with Beijing, dubbed the "Taiwan consensus". During the 2016 election cycle, Tsai was notably more moderate, making "maintaining the status quo" the centerpiece of party policy. She vowed to work within the Republic of China governing framework in addition to preserving the progress made in cross-strait relations by previous governments, while preserving "freedom and democracy" for the residents of Taiwan.[62]

Tsai believes in the importance of economic and trade links with mainland China, but publicly spoke out against the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), a preferential trade agreement that increased economic links between Taiwan and mainland China. She generally supports the diversification of Taiwan's economic partners.[citation needed]

In response to the death of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died of organ failure while in government custody, Tsai pleaded with the Communist government to "show confidence in engaging in political reform so that the Chinese can enjoy the God-given rights of freedom and democracy".[63]

Tsai has accused the Communist Party of China's troll army of spreading fake news via social media to influence voters and support candidates more sympathetic to Beijing ahead of the 2018 Taiwanese local elections.[64][65][66]

In January 2019, Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, had announced an open letter to Taiwan proposing a one country, two systems formula for eventual unification. Tsai responded to Xi in a January 2019 speech by stating that Taiwan rejects "one country, two systems" and that because Beijing equates the 1992 Consensus with "one country, two systems", Taiwan rejects the 1992 Consensus as well.[67]

Tsai expressed her solidarity with Hong Kong protesters, remarking that Taiwan's democracy was hard-earned and had to be guarded and renewed. Pledging that as long as she was Taiwan's president, she would never accept "one country, two systems", Tsai cited what she considered to be the constant and rapid deterioration of Hong Kong's democracy over the course of 20 years.[68]

Tsai and Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine in October 2017

Domestic policy

Tsai has traditionally been supportive of disadvantaged groups in society, including the poor, women and children, Taiwanese aborigines, and LGBT groups. She favours government action to reduce unemployment, introducing incentives for entrepreneurship among youth, expanding public housing, and government-mandated childcare support. She supports government transparency and more prudent and disciplined fiscal management.[citation needed]

Tsai attends the commencement of her alma mater, Zhongshan Girls High School in Taipei, June 2016

Tsai advocated for the non-partisanship of the president of the Legislative Yuan, the increase in the number of "at-large" seats in the legislature, the broadening of participation among all political parties and interest groups. She supports proactively repairing the damage done to Taiwanese aboriginal groups, as well as the government actions in the February 28 Incident and during the phase of White Terror. She has also called for the de-polarization of Taiwanese politics, and advocates for a more open and consensus-based approach to addressing issues and passing legislation.[69]

LGBT rights

Tsai supports LGBT rights and has endorsed same-sex marriage to be legalised in Taiwan. On 21 August 2015, which is the Qixi Festival, she released a campaign video in which three same-sex couples actors appeared.[70][71] On 31 October 2015, when the biggest gay pride parade in Asia was held in Taipei, Tsai expressed her support for same-sex marriage.[72] She posted a 15-second video on her Facebook page saying "I am Tsai Ing-wen, and I support marriage equality" and "Let everyone be able to freely love and pursue happiness".[73][74] However during the presidency, Tsai delayed the process to legalize same-sex marriage due to opposition from conservative and religious groups. After the 2018 Taiwanese referendum, Tsai led the government to legalize same-sex marriage outside of the Civil Code.


Defense spending and indigenous programs

Under the Tsai administration, military spending has risen in Taiwan relative to GDP. The defense budget was set to $327 billion NTD in 2018 and $346 billion in 2019.[75] The defense budget in 2020 was set to $411 billion NTD, estimated to be 2.3% of GDP, representing an 8.3% increase in total spending over the previous year and a 0.2% increase in percentage of GDP.[76][77] The administration has also focused on developing indigenous submarines.[78]

Energy policy

The Tsai administration has stated an energy supply goal of 20% from renewables, 30% from coal and 50% from liquefied natural gas.[79]

Green energy

Bills under the umbrella of the Forward-Looking Infrastructure initiative have been used to fund green energy initiatives. The administration plans to install 1,000 wind turbines on land and offshore[80] and has contracted Ørsted of Denmark to install 900 MW of capacity and wpd of Germany to install 1 GW of capacity.[81] Taiwan's first offshore wind farm, Formosa I, consisting of 22 wind turbines expected to produce 128 MW of energy, is slated to begin operations at the end of 2019.[82] The government also purchased 520 MW of solar capacity in 2017 and more than 1 GW in 2018; total capacity was 2.8 GW at the end of 2018, with the government planning to deploy an addition 1.5 GW of solar energy in 2019 and 2.2 GW in 2020.[83]

Break-up of Taipower

The government approved amendments to the Electricity Act on 20 October 2016 to break up the state-owned monopoly Taipower into subsidiaries and further liberalize the power sector by allowing companies to sell electricity to users directly rather than selling through Taipower. In particular, the generation and distribution divisions of Taipower are to be separated. Amongst the stated motivations for liberalisation was to allow for the direct purchase of green energy by consumers.[84] The plan also included emissions controls, the creation of a regulatory agency, mandatory reserve margins (waived for start-up green energy companies), and measures for price stabilization.[85][86] The plan was met with protests by Taipower employees.[87]

Nuclear energy

Tsai campaigned on a promise to make Taiwan nuclear-free by 2025, which was codified into law on 11 January 2017 via amendments to the Electricity Act.[86] An energy blackout due to an unrelated operational mistake have led some to question the nuclear phase-out.[88] According to the results of the 2018 referendum, this provision was abolished on 7 May 2019.[89] Nonetheless, the administration has maintained a goal of phasing out nuclear energy.[90][91]

Forward-looking infrastructure

On 5 July 2017, the first Forward-Looking Infrastructure Bill passed the Legislative Yuan. The bill provided $420 billion NTD in funds over a period of 4 years toward infrastructure projects in light-rail infrastructure, water supply infrastructure, flood control measures, and green energy, talent developent, urban and rural infrastructure, digital infrastructure and food safety.[92][93][94] Other projects include improving road safety and aesthetics, locally oriented industrial parks, recreation centers, bicycle paths, and public service centers for long-term care.[95][96]

Labor reform

On 1 January 2017, the amended Labor Standards Law (commonly referred to as 一例一休),[97] which was passed on 6 December 2016 by the legislature,[98] took effect.[99] The amendments stipulated, with some exceptions, a 40-hour five-day work week with one compulsory rest day and one flexible rest day. On the flexible rest day, workers may work for overtime pay, and the compulsory rest day guaranteed that workers could not work more than six days in a row. The amendments also reduced the number of national holidays from 19 to 12, eliminating Youth Day, Teachers’ Day, Retrocession Day, Chiang Kai-shek's birthday, Sun Yat-sen's birthday, Constitution Day and the day following New Year's Day.[100] Prior to the amendments, the Labor Standards Act stipulated a maximum of 84 hours of work in any given 14 day period.[101] The amendments were met with protests from labor groups, who opposed the reduction of national holidays and demanded that work on flexible rest days should result in compensatory vacation days in addition to overtime pay.[102]

After taking effect, the amendments were criticized for their lack of flexibility, resulting in a net decrease in total pay and an increased in cost of living, and for having an overly complicated scheme for calculating overtime pay, leading the administration to further revise the Labor Standards Act.[103] On 1 March 2018, the second revision of the Labor Standards Act came into effect.[104] The revisions relaxed the previous regulations by stipulating two compulsory rest days for each 14 day period rather than one compulsory rest day for each 7 day period, meaning that workers could work for 12 days in a row. The revisions also simplified the formula for overtime pay.[105][106] The revisions were met with protests and hunger strikes by labor groups.[107]

National languages

The Tsai administration took actions to preserve languages facing a crisis of inheritance and to put them on more equal footing to Mandarin. Previously, the only national language was Mandarin; during her administration, the national languages of Taiwan were eventually broadened to include Mandarin, Taiwanese Hokkien, Hakka, 16 indigenous Formosan languages, Taiwanese Sign Language and the Matsu dialect of Eastern Min spoken on the Matsu Islands.

The Indigenous Languages Development Act took effect on 14 June 2017, designating 16 indigenous Formosan languages as national languages.[108] Hakka was made a national language via amendments to the Hakka Basic Act on 29 December 2017.[109] On 25 December 2018, the sweeping National Languages Development Act passed the legislature, creating broadcast services for each national language of Taiwan, guaranteeing access to public services in each language, and introducing elective language classes in primary schools.[110] The act also directed the government to work with civic groups to create standard orthographies for each national language, and to develop a plan for preserving and revitalizing threatened languages. It furthermore automatically designated, in Article 3,[111] all languages of all ethnic group in Taiwan to be a national language,[112] thus clearing the way for Taiwanese Hokkien, Taiwanese Sign Language, and the Matsu dialect to become national languages.

On 15 August 2019, the government amended the Enforcement Rules of the Passport Act to allow for the use of romanizations of names in any national language (Hakka, Hoklo or indigenous languages) in passports.[113]

New Southbound Policy

The New Southbound Policy was launched on 5 September 2016 with the intent to make Taiwan less dependent on Mainland China and to improve Taiwan's cooperation with other countries.[114] The 18 countries the New Southbound Policy targeted for increased cooperation are: Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Australia and New Zealand.[115] The policy designated areas of cooperation in trade, technology, agriculture, medicine, education, and tourism. In mid-2019, the Taiwanese government announced that since the implementation of the policy, bilateral trade between Taiwan and the targeted countries increased by 22%, while investment by targeted countries increased by 60%. Further, the number of medical patients from targeted countries increased by 50%, the number of visitors increased by 58%, and the number of students increased by 52%.[116]

Pension reform

International observers have noted that Taiwan's pre-reform pension system was due to default by 2030 for civil servants and 2020 for the military.[117][118][119] Pension reform was passed via two separate bills, one dealing with civil servants and schoolteachers on 27 June 2017[117] and another dealing with military veterans on 20 June 2018. On 1 July 2018, the pension reforms came into effect. Civil servants, upon retirement, have a choice between receiving pensions in monthly instalments subject to a preferential interest rate or via a lump sum. Under the reforms, the previous preferential interest rate for those who opted for monthly instalments would be gradually reduced from 18% to 0% over the span of 30 months. Civil servants who opted for a lump sum would see their interest rates decreased from 18% to 6% over a period of 6 years. The reforms were estimated to affect 63,000 military veterans, 130,000 public servants and 140,000 schoolteachers. The reforms simultaneously set minimum monthly pensions for schoolteachers and civil servants at $32,160 NTD and for military veterans at $38,990 NTD.[120] The reforms also raised the minimum retirement age to 60 from 55, to increase by 1 per year until the retirement age reaches 65.[117][121] Though the reforms were met with protests from government retirees and veterans,[122] polls have shown that the majority of Taiwanese are satisfied with the outcome of the pension reforms.[123][124][125] After a legal challenge by the KMT, the Constitutional Court found most of the pension reform constitutional, while striking down clauses regarding the suspension of pensions for retirees that took jobs later in the private sector.[126][127]

Same-sex marriage

On 24 May 2017, the Constitutional Court ruled that the constitutional right to equality and freedom of marriage guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry under the Constitution of the Republic of China. The ruling (Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 748) gave the Legislative Yuan two years to bring the marriage laws into compliance, after which registration of such marriages would come into force automatically.[128][129] Following the ruling, progress on implementing a same-sex marriage law was slow due to government inaction and strong opposition from some conservative people and Christian groups.[130] In November 2018, the Taiwanese electorate passed referendums to prevent recognition of same-sex marriages in the Civil Code and to restrict teaching about LGBT issues. The Government responded by confirming that the Court's ruling would be implemented and that the referendums could not support laws contrary to the Constitution.[131]

On 20 February 2019, a draft bill entitled the Act for Implementation of J.Y. Interpretation No. 748[a] was released. The draft bill would grant same-sex married couples almost all the rights available to heterosexual married couples under the Civil Code, with the exception that it only allows adoption of a child genetically related to one of them.[132] The Executive Yuan passed it the following day, sending it to the Legislative Yuan for fast-tracked review.[133] The bill was passed on 17 May,[134] signed by the President on 22 May and took effect on 24 May 2019 (the last day possible under the Court's ruling).[135]

Transitional justice and ill-gotten assets

The Act on Promoting Transitional Justice (促進轉型正義條例) was passed by the Legislative Yuan on 5 December 2017. The act sought to rectify injustices committed by the authoritarian Kuomintang government of the Republic of China on Taiwan, and to this end established the Transitional Justice Commission to investigate actions taken from 15 August 1945, the date of the Jewel Voice Broadcast, to 6 November 1992, when president Lee Teng-hui lifted the Temporary Provisions against the Communist Rebellion for Fujian Province, Republic of China, ending the period of mobilization.[136][137] This time period, in particular, includes the February 28 Incident as well as White Terror. The committee's main aims include: making political archives more readily available, removing authoritarian symbols, redressing judicial injustice, and producing a report on the history of the period which delineates steps to further promote transitional justice.[138] Thus far, the commission has exonerated political criminals from the martial law era, made recommendations on the removal of authoritarian symbols, and declassified government documents from the martial law era.

The Act Governing the Handling of Ill-gotten Properties by Political Parties and Their Affiliate Organizations was passed in July and Wellington Koo, one of the main authors of the Act, was named as the committee chairman in August.[139][140] With the establishment of the committee, the KMT has insisted that it has been illegally and unconstitutionally persecuted and that the investigation is a political witch hunt.[141][142] However, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) maintained that the means are necessary for achieving transitional justice and leveling the playing field for all political parties.[142] Thus far, the committee has determined that the China Youth Corps, Central Motion Picture Corp., National Women's League, and the Broadcasting Corporation of China were KMT-affiliated organizations and either froze their assets or ordered them to forfeit them.[143][144][145][146][147]

Family and personal life

Tsai's paternal grandfather, of Hakka descent, came from a prominent family in Fangshan, Pingtung, while her grandmother, from Shizi, Pingtung, was of aboriginal Paiwan descent.[148][149] Tsai's father, Tsai Chieh-sheng (蔡潔生; Cài Jiéshēng) owned a car repair business.[150] Tsai's mother is Chang Chin-fong (張金鳳; Zhāng Jīnfèng), the last of her father's four mistresses. She is the youngest of her father's 11 children, having three full siblings among them; she also has a maternal half-brother.[151] Tsai is unmarried and has no children. Tsai is known to be a cat lover, and her two cats, "Think Think" and "Ah Tsai", featured prominently in her election campaign.[152] In October 2016, she adopted three retired guide dogs, named Bella, Bunny, and Maru.[153]

According to the traditional Chinese naming practice, Tsai's name would have been 蔡瀛文, since her generation name is (yíng), not (yīng).[154] However, her father believed the former to have too many strokes for the girl to learn, so she was instead named 英文, which can be literally translated by its individual parts as "heroic" and "literature; culture", or the Chinese word for the English language if taken even more literally and without its erudite meaning.[154]


  1. ^ Also translated as the Enforcement Act of Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 748.


  1. ^ Ministry of Foreign Affairs brochures MOFA-EN-FO-105-011-I-1 (also appearing in Taiwan Review, May/June 2016) and −004-I-1.
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Su Chi
Minister of the Mainland Affairs Council
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President of the Republic of China
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Frank Hsieh
Leader of the Democratic Progressive Party
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Ker Chien-ming
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Ker Chien-ming
Leader of the Democratic Progressive Party
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Chen Chu
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Su Tseng-chang
Leader of the Democratic Progressive Party
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Lin Yu-chang
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