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September 20, 2017

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Tsai announces bid to run for DPP chair

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The opposition Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) former Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen yesterday announced her bid to run for party leadership again, vowing to restore public trust in politics in Taiwan.

Tsai said at the announcement that she decided to run despite advice from "many senior (party members) and friends" that she needs to be "protected" now and should sit out the DPP chairperson election so as to focus on the 2016 presidential election. "While I thank people for their advice, I have to say I am a mature political figure. I don't need to be protected," Tsai said.

While Tsai stressed that she is not discrediting anybody in her decision to join the race, she expressed her feeling that Taiwan has been stuck in a quagmire and the nation has been "collapsing" over the past two years. Incumbent DPP leader Su Tseng-chang, Tsai's major competitor for the top opposition spot, assumed his position two years ago after Tsai was defeated by President Ma Ying-jeou in the 2012 presidential election and resigned as the DPP's chairwoman.

Tsai pointed out that the party and Taiwan's society need to "take a step forward" or be "eliminated" by the world. Electoral victories, while important, must not be built "on the back of disappointments with the current administration, but on the expectations and hope that the public has of the DPP," she said at a press conference to declare her candidacy. The DPP therefore has to boldly embark on a transformation, said Tsai.

"My decision to run for party chairperson is to restore public trust in politics, and to lead them to place their hope for themselves, their family, society and country back in the DPP," said Tsai in an English press release from her office.

By making the announcement, Tsai, 57, pitted herself against incumbent Su, 66. Both are said to be interested in running for president in 2016. Another former party boss, Frank Hsieh, has also announced his bid for the post. Hsieh, also a former presidential candidate, said that the next DPP chair should not join the 2016 presidential election in order to stay focused on leading the party in the election campaigns.

The party election will be held on May 25.

In the morning press conference, Tsai did not address how she would handle Taiwan's delicate relationship with China or make specific proposals on how to spur Taiwan's slow-growing economy.

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