Beijing puts pressure on Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen after her party loses in local elections

For mainland media, “her separatist stance has lost her the support of the people on the island". The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) now controls only six cities and counties, whilst pro-mainland Kuomintang has 15. Tsai quit as party leader but will remain as president until the end of her mandate.

Taipei (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Chinese state media are putting pressure on Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (pictured) on Monday after her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) suffered heavy losses at local elections at the weekend, saying Beijing would seek cooperation with newly elected officials.

Ms Tsai resigned as DPP president after her party lost power in the main cities to the mainland-friendly Kuomintang (KMT). The DPP now only controls six cities and counties to the Kuomintang's 15.

The election was seen as a referendum on the Tsai administration, two years after she became the island’s first woman president.

Tsai had promised to revitalise Taiwan’s lackluster economy and keep the democratic island at a distance from the mainland Communist Party's pull.

But her economic leadership came under criticism as she sought unpopular labour restructuring and pension cuts, whilst wage growth — which has been flat since the 1990s — never materialised.

At the same time, the Chinese government launched personal attacks against Tsai, organised military drills near the island and worked to isolate Taiwan from the international community.

The election was overshadowed by allegations from DPP that China was seeking to influence the election through a disinformation campaign on social media and by illegally financing pro-China publications.

Despite this, Tsai took "full responsibility" for the DPP's losses and acknowledged the reversal reflected the people's will after voters queued for hours to cast their ballots. At the same time, she is expected to complete her mandate, which will end in 2020.

Tsai has said she wants to maintain the status quo with China but will defend Taiwan's security and democracy.

In an editorial, the China Daily said Tsai had ignored Beijing's "cooperative stance" and forced relations into a deadlock, and that "her separatist stance has lost her the support of the people on the island".

Since Tsai took office, the KMT sent delegations to China, where they were warmly received. Contacts can now be expected to increase.

Another state-run Chinese paper, the Global Times, said in its editorial that the DPP's "radical thinking" had led them astray. "The party needs to reflect on this failure and make an about-face on its stance in the cross-Straits ties," it said.

However, the day after the vote, Taiwan's government denounce China's welcoming of the DPP's poor showing as being a reflection of people's desire for better ties across the Taiwan Strait.

"Communications and exchanges that do not have political preconditions are the only correct way to resolve disputes and increase the well-being of people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait," Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council said, warning China not to try to contact newly elected local officials.