Taiwan’s new leading lady

An emotional Tsai Ing-wen thanks her supporters after her election victory. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang
An emotional Tsai Ing-wen thanks her supporters after her election victory. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang
Taiwan's new president, Tsai Ing-wen, is breaking down glass ceilings, becoming the first woman to lead the island country.

Taiwan has elected its first female president making Tsai Ing-wen, a US and UK trained lawyer, the most powerful woman in the Chinese-speaking world.

Tsai, 59, leads the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) that wants independence from China, although in her victory speech she vowed to maintain the status quo.

China sees the island as a breakaway province – which it has threatened to take back by force if necessary.

Tsai became chairwoman of the DPP in 2008, after the party saw a string of corruption scandals. She lost a presidential bid in 2012 but has subsequently spent her time rising through the ranks.

In winning the role Tsai has broken numerous boundaries including becoming the first person to receive the title without previously having held an elected post of any kind.

Tsai is also the first unmarried president to hold office in the country’s history.

She has a reputation among her colleagues as naturally shy but Tsai is said to be a force of nature at the negotiation table, having been compared to Margaret Thatcher and German president Angela Merkel.

In addition to her promises to restore Taiwan’s struggling economy, Tsai is also a staunch activist for marriage equality.

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