‘Outsider’ hopes for success in Taiwan poll as China looms

Han Kuo-yu pulled a surprise in Kaohsiung in November, but presidential race may be more of a challenge.Al Jazeera
Date: Jul 27, 2019
By: Randy Mulyanto

Han Kuo-yu is challenging incumbent Tsai Ing-wen in Taiwan’s presidential election scheduled for January. He won the candidacy of the opposition KMT earlier this month [Chiang Ying-ying/AP Photo]

Taipei, Taiwan – Han Kuo-yu was largely unknown until becoming the mayor of Taiwan's southern city of Kaohsiung in November last year. But now, he is hoping his "outsider" status within an establishment party can help him become Taiwan's next president – even as China ratchets up its rhetoric on the island it views as its own. 

Han, who is due to make his first policy speech on Sunday, was chosen earlier this month as the candidate of the opposition and pro-China Kuomintang (KMT) to take on President Tsai Ing-wen, of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), in January's election.

The 62-year-old, who is seen as representing neither the mainstream KMT nor Taiwan's political establishment, on July 15 beat four rivals to the nomination including Terry Gou, the billionaire founder of tech equipment maker Foxconn.

At a rally in the capital, Taipei, on June 1, Han had told a crowd of at least tens of thousands of supporters that he would be a "president for the common people".

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