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Taiwan’s Hung Makes Nationalist Party Comeback With Party Chief Win

Crowds Gather In Taipei To Show Support For Hong Kong Pro Democracy RalliesCrowds Gather In Taipei To Show Support For Hong Kong Pro Democracy Rallies
Hundreds of students raise cell phones in Liberty Square to show support for Hong Kong prodemocracy ralliesAshley Pon Getty Images

Taiwan’s opposition Nationalist Party picked as its new leader a woman it had ditched as its presidential candidate weeks before January’s election after a wave of criticism of her campaign.

Pro-China Hung Hsiu-chu, a one-time schoolteacher known by the nickname “Little Hot Chili Pepper,” won 56% of the vote, a Nationalist Party spokeswoman said, beating three other candidates.

“Thanks to so many comrades’ support … giving me a chance to bend down and pick up the first brick to lead the Nationalist Party to rebuild our home from the debris,” Hung told a news conference.

“In the face of such a difficult and hard future situation, as long as we have courage there is no difficulty we cannot overcome. Please join me and work with me,” she added.

Hung’s victory marks a comeback for a woman who, in October, was removed as her party’s candidate for January’s presidential election after a campaign riddled with gaffes and political attacks.

The change made no difference, however, as her replacement, Eric Chu, still ended up being trounced in by Tsai Ing-wen of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Chu resigned as party chief after the defeat.

Tsai will take over as president in May from Ma Ying-jeou who has held the position for the Nationalists since 2008.

Known in Chinese as the Kuomintang, the Nationalist Party ruled China before being forced to flee to Taiwan in 1949 at the end of a bloody civil war with the Chinese Communist Party. Beijing claims Taiwan as a renegade province to be brought under its control by force if necessary.