Tsai Ing-wen has been sworn in as the new president of Taiwan, becoming its first female leader and calling for “positive dialogue” with Beijing, BBC reports. Ms Tsai, seen as an unassuming but determined leader, led the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to a landslide win in elections in January.
The DPP has traditionally leaned towards independence from China, which sees Taiwan as a breakaway province. In the past, it has threatened to take the island by force if necessary.
It still has hundreds of missiles pointing towards the island. Ms Tsai, 59, swore the presidential oath in front of the national flag, before being presented with the official seal.
She and outgoing President Ma Ying-jeou then came out to wave at the crowds watching on screens outside the presidential building.
In her inaugural speech, she said Taiwanese people had shown they were “committed to the defence of our freedom and democracy as a way of life”.
The “stable and peaceful development of the cross-Strait relationship must be continuously promoted”, she said, calling on both sides to “set aside the baggage of history, and engage in positive dialogue, for the benefit of the people on both sides”.
Ms Tsai’s election win was only the second ever for the DPP – the Kuomintang (KMT) has been in power for most of the past 70 years.
But Mr Ma lost public support over his handling of the economy, the widening wealth gap, as well as what many say was too friendly an approach to Beijing.