US says it has profound interest in peace between China, Taiwan

Supporters of Taiwan's (DPP) Chairperson and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen celebrating her victory in Taipei, Taiwan, Jan 16, 2016.
Supporters of Taiwan's (DPP) Chairperson and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen celebrating her victory in Taipei, Taiwan, Jan 16, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

TAIPEI (REUTERS, AFP) - The United States said on Saturday (Jan 16) that it has "profound interest" in the continuation of peace and stability between Taiwan and China, just hours after the island elected an independence-leaning opposition leader as its president.

"We look forward to working with Dr Tsai and Taiwan's leaders of all parties to advance our many common interests and further strengthen the unofficial relationship between the United States and the people on Taiwan," it said in a statement, referring to president-elect Tsai Ing-wen.

Tsai said on Saturday she would not be provocative in relations with China, the self-ruled island's giant neighbour that claims Taiwan as an errant province.

Vote counting is continuing but Tsai, the candidate of the of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), was on course for a record majority and a landslide victory over the ruling Kuomintang.

Her win is a defeat for Kuomintang's Eric Chu - who has conceded the race - and a rebuke for outgoing president Ma Ying-jeou.

The US relationship with Taiwan, while close, is "unofficial" because Washington recognises China as one nation and supported outgoing leader Ma's efforts to improve relations with Beijing.

"The United States thanks President Ma Ying-jeou for his efforts to develop a strong partnership with the United States and applauds him for concrete steps he has taken to improve cross-Strait ties in recent years," said State Department spokesman John Kirby.

"We hope that President Ma's administration and the incoming administration will work constructively to ensure a smooth transition and continue to promote peace and stability in the region."