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A closer look at DPP's new VP candidate Hsiao Bi-khim in upcoming Taiwan elections

‘A daughter of Tainan’ with international past returns to help DPP in presidential race

Hsiao Bi-khim returns to serve as VP candidate.

Hsiao Bi-khim returns to serve as VP candidate. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Former Taiwan representative to the U.S. Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) has been the center of media attention after being tapped as a running mate for Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Lai Ching-te (賴清德).

After accepting Lai’s invitation to run as vice president, Hsiao returned to Taiwan and is now devoting all her energies to the January 2024 general election. More media exposure has led to closer scrutiny of her early years, where she was a "daughter of Tainan" before pursuing education overseas, per Liberty Times.

Hsiao completed elementary and junior high school in Tainan, a talented and popular student who excelled at her studies. Upon finishing junior high school, she received the principal's award, and after taking the Tainan District High School Joint Entrance Examination, she gained admission to her first choice, Tainan Girls' High School.

This accomplishment was reported in the newspaper and drew attention to her unique background, being born in Japan to an American mother, Peggy Cooley.

Her father was Reverand Hsiao Ching-fen (蕭清芬), a principal at Tainan Theological College and Seminary, a Presbyterian educational institute, from 1973–1986. It was there that he met Cooley, who was the music instructor at the seminary. The young couple first had Hsiao Bi-khim and later a son.

Later, the family moved to New Jersey in the U.S., where her father served in church-based missionary organizations and continued to pastor a Taiwanese church. Though the family lived overseas, they championed the cause of “Taiwanese identity.”

The Tainan Theological Seminary where Hsiao's father had served had been a hotbed of dissent both before and after the Formosa Incident. During the martial law era, the Hsiao family kept the dream of Taiwan independence alive by maintaining contact with dissidents and associated organizations while they resided in the U.S.

After Hsiao completed her studies at Oberlin College and her Master’s in Political Science at Columbia University, she eventually returned to Taiwan to direct the DPP’s International Affairs Department, later serving as an elected legislator and then Taiwan representative to the U.S.