Taiwan's China-friendly Nationalist Party has elected its first female leader after she was ousted as a candidate ahead of the January presidential elections that the party lost.

The Kuomintang had ditched Hung Hsiu-chu as her abrasive style and strongly pro-China positions were seen as alienating voters. Now Hung is the first woman to chair the party and likely faces a difficult time rebuilding it after its electoral defeat.

Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated Hung from Beijing, saying he hoped the two parties would continue to oppose "Taiwan independence," according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Hung was jettisoned as the Kuomintang's presidential candidate in favor of then-chairman Eric Chu. He lost to Tsai Ing-wen of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, and her party also gained a decisive parliamentary majority.