Taiwan's opposition Nationalist Party, also known as Kuomintang, has selected a pro-China leader after suffering a defeat at the polls in January. The new leader faces the challenge of regaining support for the party.
Hung Hsiu-chu, known for her pro-China stance, won 56 percent of the vote on Saturday, beating three other candidates to guide the Kuomintang (KMT) as it steers through difficult times.
Hung is the first female leader of the KMT, which lost the presidency and parliament to the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in January amid mounting concerns over closer relations with China.
Her election by party cadres represents a comeback for the former schoolteacher. She had been removed from the KMT presidential candidate list weeks before the polls after a series of political mishaps.
The KMT instead went with Eric Chu, but he lost to Tsai Ing-wen of the DPP. Chu resigned after the defeat, requiring a leadership vote.
The pro-independence DPP surged in popularity as public backlash grew against the KMT policy of developing closer trade relations with Beijing, which still considers the island to be a part of China.
China warns DPP
China has looked on with concern as Tsai is set to take office in May from China-friendly Ma Ying-jeou, a figure who steered the KMT's cross-strait relations.
Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory message to Hung, in which he issued a veiled warning to the DPP.
"As current cross-strait relations face new circumstances, we wish to see the two parties bear in mind national interest and well-being of compatriots, continuing to adhere to the 1992 consensus and oppose Taiwan independence," Xi said in the note, provided by the KMT.
The 1992 consensus refers to an agreement between Taipei and Beijing to recognize the "one China" principle, an ambiguous commitment to eventually unite the two nations. The DPP does not recognize the "one China" principle.
Taiwan has been self-governing since a 1949 civil war forced the KMT to flee the mainland after the Communist Party took control.
cw/cmk (AFP, Reuters)