Taiwan presidential frontrunner Tsai Ing-wen cast her ballots in Saturday's presidential and parliamentary elections. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Tsai Ing-wen, leader of Taiwan's opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), cast her votes in the presidential and parliamentary elections on Saturday (January 16). Tsai looks set to be elected as Taiwan's first woman president who could usher in a new round of uncertainty with China, the massive neighbour that claims the self-ruled island as its sacred territory. The 59-year-old is expected to be thrust into one of Asia's toughest and most dangerous jobs, with China pointing hundreds of missiles at the island, decades after losing Nationalists fled from Mao Zedong's Communists to Taiwan in the Chinese civil war. She will have to balance the superpower interests of China, also Taiwan's largest trading partner, and the United States, with those of her freewheeling, democratic home. Tsai risks antagonising China if she attempts to forcefully assert Taiwan's sovereignty and reverses eight years of warming China ties under incumbent China-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou of the Nationalists, who ruled all of China until the retreat to Taiwan in 1949. The election comes at a tricky time for Taiwan's export-dependent economy, which entered recession in the third quarter last year. China is also Taiwan's top trading partner and Taiwan's favourite investment destination. Support for the DPP has swelled since 2014, when hundreds of students occupied Taiwan's parliament for weeks in protests against trade pacts negotiated with China in the largest display of anti-China sentiment the island had seen in years. Tsai has the tide of history against her. Ma and predecessors, including firebrand Lee Teng-hui and convicted opposition DPP president Chen Shui-bian, all failed to bring about a lasting reconciliation with China, which considers Taiwan a rogue province to be taken by force if necessary.