Taiwan's first female presidential candidate picked

Tsai Ing-wen, pictured in her campaign office on 27 April 2011 Tsai Ing-wen has led the Democratic Progressive Party since 2008

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Opposition leader Tsai Ing-wen has won her party's nomination ahead of January's election, becoming Taiwan's first female presidential candidate.

She topped an island-wide telephone poll of 15,000 voters conducted to gauge candidates' chances of defeating President Ma Ying-jeou.

Mr Ma is seeking re-election in what will be the young democracy's fifth direct presidential election.

The race will determine Taiwan's ties with China over the next four years.

Tsai Ing-wen, 54, joined the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in 2004, but quickly rose to become its chairwoman four years later.

More recently she has been credited with cleaning up the party's image and under her leadership, the DPP has performed much better in local elections.

A former vice premier, Ms Tsai came out strongest compared to opponents in her party, in an island-wide telephone poll of potential voters commissioned by the DPP.

On policy matters, Ms Tsai has criticised the pro-China stance of President Ma, opposing the landmark free trade agreement signed between Beijing and Taipei under his rule.

Her party favours, at least officially, Taiwan's formal independence from China, which still claims Taiwan as a province.

She is not against negotiating with China on economic and other matters, as long as it does not affect Taiwan's sovereignty.

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