Tsai Ing-wen

time 100 2016 Tsai Ing-wen
Wally Santana—AP

A new face of democracy

Tsai Ing-wen radiates a calm that sheathes a core of inner steel. As Taiwan’s new President, she will need both qualities.

Her most pressing challenge is to rekindle the economy, whose growth is restricted by the global isolation that China imposes on the island it claims. The odds are daunting. Tsai represents 23 million people—most of whom are neither for China nor against it—facing off against the world’s largest nation, with all the power and arrogance that go with it.

But Tsai has something no Chinese leader has: a public mandate. She shows that democracy in a Chinese society is possible and can be peacefully attained.

When Tsai had dinner in my Taipei home, she brought an excellent French red and quipped that only if you enjoy life can you be a good leader. Because when you enjoy life, you also appreciate better what others want for themselves. In Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan has a leader who knows what her people want.

Lai is a media entrepreneur and democracy activist
based in Hong Kong

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