‘Time’ features Tsai on cover
Magazine calls Tsai frontrunner for ‘Chinese’ democratic leader
Democratic Progressive Party ( DPP) Chairwoman and 2016 presidential contender Tsai Ingwen ( ) was featured in the cover story of the Asia edition of Time Magazine published yesterday.
The cover could give Tsai prestige yet its description of Taiwan as a “Chinese democracy” in the cover headline also points to the challenge in cross- strait policy faced by the “Taiwan-centric” candidate.
In Time’s article, reporter Emily Rauhala, who is based in Beijing, accompanies Tsai, the DPP chairwoman, from breakfast time (in which Tsai shows off her cu- linary skills by preparing a meal from locally sourced ingredients) to her various campaign stops throughout the day. Time portrayed Tsai as “the early frontrunner” in the 2016 presidential election with a “proudly, defiantly, Taiwan-centric” policy outlook in which she calls for a new model that weans the island’s high-tech economy from its dependence on China.
Aside from noting Tsai’s unlikely rise as the DPP’s standard bearer following a series of electoral defeats, the DPP chairwoman’s personal branding as a calculated thinker was seen as having limited resonance initially until her emotional concession speech in 2012 after the presi- dential election loss to incumbent Ma Ying-jeou galvanized supporters when she asked them “not to lose heart.” Tsai, who described herself as “quite adventurous,” was also shown to have a witty sense of humor.
Challenge in Economic Policy
However, just as Tsai has been criticized by her opponents and earlier by influential U.S. academics with ties to policymakers for the vagueness in her proposed cross-strait policy, the report also acknowledged that Tsai faced challenges in formulating a new economic model that includes the corporate world without going against the more traditional DPP China- skeptic support base.
“Our challenge is to produce something that is sensible to both sides without being considered as a traitor to the friends we used to be with when we were an opposition party,” Tsai said in the article, while seeming to refer to the DPP’s status as opposition party in the past tense.
The Time story, however, does allude to the potential salience of Tsai’s more conservative attitude toward the role of China’s laborintensive economy on Taiwan’s innovation-fueled economy that is nevertheless dependent on lower labor costs with the growing disaffection of the island’s youth as symbolized in last year’s Sunflower Movement.
Tsai, in answering questions from local media with regard to the high- profile Time feature, said that her intention was to “allow the international community to understand how the people of Taiwan want to protect democratic values.” She added that she was very pleased that the magazine chose to highlight the value of Taiwan’s democratic values on
Tsai Not Concrete Enough: Hung
Deputy Legislative Speaker and likely Kuomintang presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu told Time that she did not believe Tsai to be a “strong opponent.” As Tsai’s most likely opponent in the race, Hung also reiterated criticism toward the DPP chairwoman’s definition of the “status quo” in relations between Taiwan and China.
Referring to yesterday’s publication featuring Tsai, Hung said that it was “very good,” though she questioned Tsai’s “new model” for Taiwan, saying that a nation’s leader needed more substantive ideas rather than “constructing sentences full of adjectives only.”