‘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

its cover.

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.”

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