Taiwan’s entire 44-member cabinet resigned on Monday risking a shut-down of the island nation’s government and giving the new president elect her first major challenge just days after her landslide victory.
Tsai Ing-wen, who won presidential elections on Saturday, also helped her independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) score a majority in parliament.
Monday’s mass exodus was led by Premier Mao Chi-kuo who vowed never to return to his post even after outgoing President Ma Ying-jeou, of the Kuomintang (KMT) party, rejected his resignation.
Under Taiwanese law, the vice-premier takes power if the premier steps down. That responsibility was transferred over to Mao’s deputy Simon Chang San-cheng on Monday. However, it’s unclear how long he would hold his position.
Tsai’s opponent Eric Chu Li-luan, of the KMT, stepped down during the party’s central standing committee meeting in order to shoulder full responsibility for the loss – the party’s worst.
Tsai, who will be inaugurated on May 20, now has to address a fractured government as she prepares to outline a foreign policy strategy with China at the forefront.
Beijing still sees Taiwan as a breakaway province and it has not taken force off the table as an option to bring the island nation back under its control. China has repeatedly warned Taiwan to tread lightly when it comes to the issue of independence.
Still, it was independence sentiment that fueled many of the voters that brought Tsai to power.
Tsai would have to outline a policy that encourages goodwill between China and Taiwan while ensuring her independence-leaning supporters that she would defend Taiwan’s sovereignty.
Tung Cheng-yuan, a professor at the Graduate Institute of Development Studies at National Chengchi University, expects this policy to me a major point in her inauguration speech.
“She may have to oversee the passage of a bill in parliament on the oversight of future agreements with China before her inauguration,” Tung told the South China Morning Post. “The issue has blocked the ratification of a trade pact already signed with Beijing.”
Tsai is a bit clearer about relations with the United States.
On Monday, Tsai met with former US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns.
Tsai intends to adopt the responsibility of maintaining regional stability while forging stronger ties with US, especially when it comes to economic priorities, the Central News Agency quoted her as saying..