Taipei, July 28 (CNA) Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), seen by many as a China leaning, was officially nominated the presidential candidate of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) at its National Congress Sunday for Taiwan's January 2020 presidential election.
Han will challenge incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), who is generally considered more anti-China, and likely other, as yet undeclared, independent candidates.
In a speech after the formal nomination, Han vowed to improve the economy and create peaceful cross-strait relations. He became mayor of Kaohsiung -- a bastion of DPP support for 20 years -- in a November 2018 election, setting in motion what has been dubbed a "Han wave" across the country.
"The election is a choice between a peaceful Taiwan Strait or a Taiwan Strait filled with crisis." Han said as he characterized the the upcoming election as a battle to protect the Republic of China (ROC), hinting that the DPP intends to destroy the ROC and create an independent Taiwan.
"The election is about the life and death of the Republic of China and Taiwan's next generation," he contented.
Han said he will lead the country on a journey to revive the economy and improve the life of the common people as he has experienced much struggle in life and fully understands the hardships and needs of people at the grassroots level.
"We are going to create an economic miracle, in which Taiwan will be safe and its people will be rich. Let's work hard for our next generation." Han said.
The KMT held its 20th National Congress at Banqiao Stadium in New Taipei Sunday, attended by former party Chairpersons Lien Chan (連戰), Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄), Eric Chu (朱立倫) and Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱).
Most of the KMT presidential hopefuls who competed against Han in the party primary also appeared on stage to express party unity, with the notable exception of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘).
The KMT, which lost power in 2016 in a three-way battle between Tsai of the DPP, Chu of the KMT, and James Soong (宋楚瑜) of the People First Party, aim to win back the presidency in 2020 with a slogan of reform and unity.
Han, who won the KMT presidential primary on July 15 with 44.805 percent in public opinion polls, could face a difficult campaign in the event Gou chooses to run as an independent as some commentators have speculated and in the face of opposition to his China-leaning politics by younger voters.
Claiming he will be president of those wanting to help Taiwan "get rich" (發大財) by befriending China, Han won the support of many grassroot KMT supporters who are mostly middle-age and above and want to see calmer cross-strait relations.
Han visited the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in Hong Kong during a three-day economic tour of Hong Kong, Macao and Shenzhen in March.
The office is an agency tasked by Beijing with the implementation of its "one country, two systems" framework in Hong Kong and Macao. Han's visit triggered accusations by DPP supporters that he would "sell" Taiwan's sovereignty to Beijing should he win.