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Stop threatening Taiwan' New president William Lai says to China

by Reporter - May 20 139 Views 0 Comment

According to Taiwan's newly elected president William Lai, China should cease threatening the island and embrace its democracy.


Shortly after being sworn in on Monday, he called on Beijing to replace confrontation with dialogue.


In a bold statement, he emphasised Taiwan's unwavering resolve in the face of China's persistent claims over the island.


China issued a statement asserting that pursuing Taiwan's independence would lead to a futile outcome.


China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin stated during the daily press briefing on Monday afternoon that the pursuit of Taiwan independence is bound to be unsuccessful, regardless of the reasons or justifications behind it.


Beijing holds a negative view of Mr Lai and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), perceiving them as advocating for independence. Since his election win in January, there has been a noticeable increase in military incursions around Taiwan's waters and airspace.


China's repeated military incursions have become a regular occurrence in recent years, causing concerns about the possibility of conflict. During his speech, Mr. Lai referred to this as the most significant strategic challenge to global peace and stability.


However, the 64-year-old leader also followed a similar approach as his predecessor, President Tsai Ing-wen, whose tenure was marked by a careful and consistent approach to dealing with Beijing.


In January, Mr. Lai, a former doctor who transitioned into politics, emerged victorious in a highly contested presidential election, making history by securing an unprecedented third term. He had previously held the position of vice president under Ms Tsai since 2020, and before that, he served as her premier.

During his earlier years, he gained a reputation as a politically outspoken figure, advocating for Taiwanese independence, which greatly displeased Beijing. He was branded a "troublemaker" before the elections, with Chinese state media going as far as proposing that he face prosecution for secession.

There has been no official statement from the Chinese government regarding Mr. Lai's inauguration. Over the weekend, the Chinese embassy in the UK held a press briefing, urging the UK government to refrain from endorsing it.

Last week, a spokesperson from China's Taiwan Affairs Office issued a warning to the island's new leader, urging him to carefully consider whether he desires peaceful development or confrontation.

At the very moment Mr. Lai was taking his oath, China's Commerce Ministry made a significant announcement, imposing sanctions on several US companies allegedly linked to arms sales to Taiwan.

However, on Monday, Mr. Lai adopted a much more conciliatory tone. In a recent statement, he made it clear that he has no intention of altering the current diplomatic status, which is seen as ambiguous.

Despite having its own constitution and sovereign government, Taiwan is not officially recognized as a separate country. China maintains its stance and accuses key allies of Taiwan, such as the US, of disrupting the fragile agreement by providing support to the island.


Emphasizing the importance of peace and stability, Mr. Lai expressed his desire for a resumption of exchanges between Taiwan and China, including the return of Chinese tourist groups to Taiwan.

According to his statement, the people on the island must be fully aware of the potential threat posed by China. He emphasized the need for Taiwan to enhance its defence capabilities.


This was another step in Tsai's ongoing policy. A strong defence and the support of key allies like the US and Japan were seen as crucial by Taiwan's former president in deterring China's potential invasion. According to her biggest critics, this military investment could potentially provoke China and further endanger Taiwan.


Despite this, defence spending has seen a significant rise under Ms. Tsai's leadership, reaching approximately $20bn (£16bn). Mr. Lai has further promised to allocate even more funds towards this sector.

Taiwan has recently made significant military acquisitions, including the procurement of new battle tanks, the upgrade of its F-16 fighter jet fleet, and the purchase of additional aircraft.


Additionally, Taiwan has bolstered its naval capabilities by constructing and deploying a fleet of new missile ships to patrol the Taiwan Strait, which spans 100 miles.

In September of last year, Ms. Tsai proudly announced the successful completion of Taiwan's inaugural domestically-built submarine, which she views as the pinnacle of her military program.


Even Taiwan's allies are closely monitoring the situation, eager to determine whether his rhetoric will escalate tensions. Mr. Lai's message was intended to be cautious, specifically directed towards his American audience.

Hsiao Bi-Khim, the vice president, is seen as a trusted ally of Ms. Tsai, providing further reassurance for Washington. Born in Japan and primarily raised in the US, the 52-year-old also held the position of Taiwan's representative for three years.


At home, Mr. Lai is confronted with significant challenges. The DPP lost the youth vote in January due to high unemployment and cost of living. Taiwan's economy is heavily reliant on its highly successful semiconductor industry, which is responsible for supplying over half of the world's chips.


With a parliament that is now divided and the DPP no longer holding a majority, it seems that any hopes for a honeymoon period for him will be dashed. A heated confrontation unfolded in the public eye over the weekend as lawmakers engaged in a physical altercation in parliament regarding proposed reforms. Mr Lai's address was marred by a bitter dispute and subsequent protests.


The way he handles Beijing will be the pivotal factor in shaping his presidency, particularly considering the absence of any official communication between the two sides since 2016.


According to lawyer Hsu Chih-ming, who was present at the inaugurations, Taiwan has experienced positive outcomes under Ms. Tsai's leadership. However, he emphasized the importance of maintaining "good communications" with China.


Lai described himself as a pragmatic advocate for Taiwan's independence. "I hope he doesn't place too much emphasis on this and further strain cross-strait relations," he remarked. "If a war were to break out, it would be impossible for any of us to escape,"

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