Taiwan’s recently elected president, Lai Ching-te, advises maintaining diplomatic ties with other countries while pushing for the island’s de facto independence and bolstering defenses against China.

On Monday, Taiwan swore in Lai Ching-te as its new president, appointing a rather centrist figure who will uphold the de facto independence policy of the self-governing island democracy while attempting to strengthen its defenses against China.

Beijing has been escalating its threats to take Taiwan by force if necessary, claiming it as its own territory.

Politicians from the United governments, Japan, and several European governments, as well as delegations from the 12 countries that have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, congratulated Lai.

After becoming the mayor of Tainan, a city in the south, Lai entered politics and eventually became vice president.

He succeeds Tsai Ing-wen, who guided Taiwan through eight years of social and economic advancement in spite of China’s growing military prowess and the COVID-19 outbreak.

Prior to Tsai’s second term, Lai—who held the position of vice president—came out as more of a firebrand. When he identified himself a “pragmatic worker for Taiwan’s independence” in 2017, Beijing took offense.

After then, he has changed his mind and is now in favor of keeping things as they are on the other side of the Taiwan Strait as well as the prospect of negotiations with Beijing.

Although the US does not technically recognize Taiwan as a nation, it is required by law to assist the island with the means of self-defense. Lai will carry out Tsai’s efforts to fortify ties with the US.

She managed the contentious labor and pension reforms as well as the one-year military conscription extension.

She also initiated a drive for military modernization, which included a plan to manufacture domestic submarines at a cost of more than $16 billion apiece.

Public opinion was divided over Tsai’s handling of the epidemic; most people praised Taiwan for its early success in keeping the virus mostly outside of its borders but criticized the country for not investing more money in quick testing as the pandemic spread.





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