Embattled Taiwan ruling party closes in on presidential candidate

TAIPEI (REUTERS) - Taiwan's deputy parliamentary speaker Hung Hsiu-chu on Wednesday moved a step closer to securing the ruling Kuomintang's (KMT) nomination for next year's presidential election after her bid won the approval of top party officials.

The central standing committee of the KMT, or Nationalists, gave Ms Hung the all clear to represent the party after recent polls showed a big jump in her ratings. Her candidacy will be put to an all-member meeting in July for final approval.

The Nationalists had not been able to nail down a candidate for months as the opposition Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) candidate Tsai Ing-wen raced to a big lead in opinion polls.

Ms Hung's candidacy will likely be well received by leaders in Beijing, who see the DPP as an unstable factor in Taiwan-China ties.

A Hung-Tsai contest would give Taiwan its first woman president.