Presidential candidate for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), decried by China as a “serious danger” because of his pro-independence positions, Lai Ching-te came out on top in the presidential election Tawaïnaise which took place on Saturday January 13, with 40.2% of the votes, according to almost final official results, covering 98% of polling stations.

His main opponent, Hou Yu-ih, candidate of the largest opposition party in Taiwan, the Kuomintang (KMT), in favor of a rapprochement with China, immediately conceded defeat. “I respect the final decision of the Taiwanese people” and “I congratulate Lai Ching-te and Hsiao Bi-khim [his running mate, vice-presidential candidate] on their election, hoping that they will not disappoint the people’s expectations Taiwanese,” the latter declared in front of his supporters. According to the Central Election Commission’s tally, he received 33.2 percent of the votes.

The third presidential candidate, Ko Wen-je, 64, a candidate for the small Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) who presents himself as anti-establishment, was placed last with 25.3% of the vote.

The island’s approximately 18,000 polling stations closed at 4 p.m. (9 a.m. in Paris) in this territory of 23 million inhabitants located 180 kilometers from the Chinese coast, hailed as a model of democracy in Asia but including Beijing claims sovereignty. The Taiwanese also voted on Saturday to renew the 113 seats in Parliament, where the DPP could lose its majority.

Threats from Beijing to “crush” any desire for independence

Aged 64, Lai Ching-te has been described by Beijing as “gravely dangerous” because of his past comments in favor of the island’s independence and his fight to keep its autonomy from screw China.

At the dawn of the election, Beijing called on the electorate to make “the right choice” and the Chinese army promised to “crush” any desire for “independence”. “The Chinese People’s Liberation Army maintains high vigilance at all times and will take all necessary measures to firmly crush attempts at ‘Taiwan independence’ in any form,” the Chinese Ministry of Defense spokesperson said. Chinese defense, Zhang Xiaogang.

All week, China has increased its diplomatic and military pressure on Taiwan. On Thursday, five Chinese balloons crossed the median line separating the autonomous island from its territory, according to the Taiwanese defense ministry, which also spotted ten planes and six warships.

On Saturday, journalists from Agence France-Presse also observed a Chinese fighter jet over the town of Pingtan, the closest to Taiwan. And on the Chinese social network Weibo, the hashtag “Election in Taiwan” was blocked in the morning.

The status of Taiwan is one of the most explosive subjects in the rivalry between China and the United States, the territory’s main military supporter, and Washington plans to send an “informal delegation” to the island after the vote .

On Friday, the head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, met in Washington with Liu Jianchao, head of the international division of the central committee of the Chinese Communist Party. He reminded him of the importance of “maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”

A conflict in the Taiwan Strait would be disastrous for the global economy: the island supplies 70% of the planet’s semiconductors and more than 50% of the world’s containers transported through the strait.