Tsai Ing-wen (Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Chhòa Eng-bûn, [t͡sʰua˧˩ ʔɪŋbun˨˦]; born 31 August 1956) is a Taiwanese politician and professor serving as the president of the Republic of China, commonly known as Taiwan, since 20 May 2016. The first woman to be elected to the office, Tsai is the seventh president of the Republic of China under the 1947 Constitution and the second president from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP); part of Taiwan's Pan-Green Coalition. She is also the first president to be of both Hakka and aboriginal descent (a quarter Paiwan from her grandmother), the first unmarried president, the first to have never held an elected executive post before presidency and the first to be popularly elected without having previously served as the Mayor of Taipei. She was the Democratic Progressive Party candidate in the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections. Tsai previously served as party chair from 2008 to 2012, and from 2014 to 2018. She was re-elected for a second term on 11 January 2020 after emerging victorious in the presidential election.
Tsai studied law and international trade, and later became a law professor at Soochow University School of Law and National Chengchi University after earning an LLB from National Taiwan University, an LLM from Cornell Law School and a Ph.D. in law from the London School of Economics and Political Science. In 1993, as an independent (without party affiliation), she was appointed to a series of governmental positions, including trade negotiator for WTO affairs, by the then-ruling Kuomintang (KMT) and was one of the chief drafters of the special state-to-state relations doctrine of then President Lee Teng-hui.
After DPP President Chen Shui-bian took office in 2000, Tsai served as Minister of the Mainland Affairs Council throughout Chen's first term as a non-partisan. She joined the DPP in 2004 and served briefly as a DPP-nominated at-large member of the Legislative Yuan. From there, she was appointed Vice Premier under Premier Su Tseng-chang until the cabinet's mass resignation in 2007. She was elected and assumed DPP leadership in 2008, following her party's defeat in the 2008 presidential election. She resigned as chair after losing her 2012 presidential election bid.
Tsai ran for New Taipei City mayorship in the November 2010 municipal elections but was defeated by another former vice premier, Eric Chu (KMT). In April 2011, Tsai became the first female presidential candidate of a major party in the history of the Republic of China after defeating her former superior, Su Tseng-chang, in the DPP's primary by a slight margin. She was defeated by incumbent Kuomintang candidate Ma Ying-jeou in the 5th direct presidential election in 2012, but was elected by a landslide four years later in the sixth direct presidential election in 2016. Tsai was re-elected as President of the Republic of China with an increased share of the vote in 2020.
Tsai was born at Mackay Memorial Hospital in Zhongshan District, Taipei, Taiwan on 31 August 1956, the youngest of 11 children. Her father, Tsai Chieh-sheng (1918–2006), was a businessman who ran an auto repair shop, and her mother Chang Chin-fong (1925–2018) was a housewife. Her given name, Ing-wen (英文), was chosen by genealogical naming practices. While these suggested the spelling 瀛文, her father considered the character 瀛 too obscure, replacing it with the character 英. The resulting name 英文 could be translated as "heroic literature" or "English language". During her middle school period, she studied in Taipei Municipal Zhongshan Girls High School. She studied law at the behest of her father. After graduating at the College of Law, National Taiwan University, in 1978, Tsai obtained a Master of Laws at Cornell University Law School in 1980 and then a Ph.D. in law at the London School of Economics in 1984. Upon her return to Taiwan, she taught law at the School of Law of Soochow University and National Chengchi University, both in Taipei.
She was also appointed to the Fair Trade Commission and the Copyright Commission. She served as consultant for the Mainland Affairs Council and the National Security Council. She also led the drafting team on the Statute Governing Relations with Hong Kong and Macau (Chinese: 港澳關係條例).