Lai Ching-te became president of Taiwan

Lai Ching-te became president of Taiwan
Lai Ching-te became president of Taiwan

The new president of Taiwan defends the democratic model of the island, which is why it is considered by China a “dangerous separatist.” Taiwanese politician Lai Ching-te assumed the position of president of this autonomous and democratic island claimed by Beijing this Monday (05/20/2024). who considers him a “dangerous separatist” who will bring “war and decline” to the territory.

China considers the island part of its territory and increased political and military pressure on its authorities during Tsai Ing-wen’s eight-year presidency., which have seen a sharp deterioration in relations between Beijing and Taipei. The new 64-year-old president, winner of the elections held in January 2024, until now was Tsai’s number two and shares with her his firm defense of the island’s democratic model.

In the past he described himself as “a pragmatic worker for Taiwanese independence.”. In recent times, Lai softened his rhetoric and advocated maintaining the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, that is, preserving the sovereignty of the territory that has its own government, currency or army, but without formally declaring independence.

The inauguration ceremony took place at 9 a.m. at the Presidential Palace in Taipei. In that building from Japanese colonial times, Lai and his vice president Hsiao Bi-khim were sworn in before dozens of foreign representatives. Lai and Hsiao, formerly Taiwan’s representative in the United States, are members of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), a firm defender of the territory’s sovereignty.

The president must deliver his inaugural speech before thousands of people, which will be analyzed for clues about how he plans to manage the delicate relationship with Beijing. Eight heads of state, including Paraguayan President Santiago Peña, stand out among the 51 international delegations who came to demonstrate support for the island’s democracy. In addition, an Air Force formation flight and a performance by a thousand opera and traditional dance artists are planned to celebrate the inauguration of the new president.

China says ‘unification’ is ‘inevitable’

With only 12 alliesTaipei lacks diplomatic recognition at the international level, but the majority of its 23 million inhabitants consider that they have a Taiwanese identity different from the Chinese one.. Like her predecessor, Lai is expected to increase defense spending and strengthen unofficial relations with democratic governments, especially the United States, a key ally and arms supplier to Taipei. Beijing has never given up on using force to take control of Taiwan, especially if the island were to declare independence.

The Chinese president, Xi Jinping has stated on several occasions that “unification” is “inevitable”. Before Lai’s inauguration, the Chinese Government’s Taiwan Affairs Office said that “Taiwan independence and peace across the Strait… are like fire and water.” In the 180 km strait that separates Taiwan from the mainland, the presence of Chinese military planes and ships is almost daily and has increased in the days leading up to the ceremony. On the eve of the event, some Taiwanese were pessimistic about the possibility of improving relations with China.

Along the same lines as Xi Jinping, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi declared this Monday: “The one-China principle is the anchor of peace in the Taiwan Strait. There is only one China in the world and Taiwan is part of China. This is a historical and legal fact. “No matter how the situation in Taiwan changes, it cannot change this fact.”

The student Chang Hsin-rui said to the AFP who hopes that “the situation in the Strait will get worse”. “We will be stuck in a narrowing rift for a long time,” the 19-year-old said. Lai has made concessions to resume high-level communications, which Beijing restricted in 2016 when Tsai took power, but experts do not think he is likely to succeed. Despite his victory in the presidential election, Lai faces the DPP minority in Parliament, where on Friday, May 17, a fight broke out between members of the three parties with representation. That can prevent or delay policy adoption on issues that many Taiwanese care about much more than the conflict, such as the rising cost of living, rising housing prices or stagnant wages.

With information from DW

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