Taiwan’s new president takes office with call for peace with China

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Taiwan’s new president Lai Ching-te has called on Beijing to work with him to achieve peace and common prosperity instead of threatening his country as he took office amid high tensions across the Taiwan Strait. .

China should “stop its verbal attacks and military intimidation. . . shoulder global responsibilities together with Taiwan, commit to maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and in the region, and ensure that the world is free from the fear of war,” Lai said in his inaugural address on Monday.

Lai called on Beijing to engage with Taiwan’s democratically elected government and called for the resumption of mutual tourism exchanges and programs bringing Chinese students to Taiwan.

Senior officials in Lai’s incoming government said the promise to resume exchanges was a concrete gesture of goodwill. The Chinese government has blamed Taiwan for a near-complete breakdown in cross-Strait interaction, although Taipei insists Beijing has hindered the resumption of the programs.

The Chinese Communist Party claims that Taiwan is part of China and threatens to use force to bring it under its control if Taipei resists unification indefinitely. He has denounced Lai as a “dangerous separatist,” with rhetoric even more hostile than his rejection of his predecessor, Tsai Ing-wen.

As he sought to reassure the United States, Lai invoked much of the language that Tsai — whose prudent policy toward China drew plaudits abroad — used to describe Taiwan’s status and its relationship with Beijing.

Lai vowed that his government will “neither give in nor provoke and maintain the status quo” across the Taiwan Strait and “uphold the four commitments” made by Tsai, including adherence to the country’s free and democratic constitutional system.

Other commitments are that the Republic of China (official name of Taiwan) and the People’s Republic of China should not be subordinate to each other; resist annexation or invasion of Taiwan’s sovereignty; and ensure that the country’s future is decided according to the will of the Taiwanese people.

“Since the future of both sides of the Strait has a decisive impact on the global situation, we. . . They will be the helmsmen of peace,” Lai said.

Lai also called on Beijing to recognize the existence of the Republic of China, another phrase borrowed from Tsai. Founded on the mainland, the Republic of China has persisted in Taiwan after being defeated in China’s 1949 Communist Revolution.

But he added his own note on national identity, saying: “No matter whether (it is) the Republic of China, Republic of China Taiwan or Taiwan, these names (that) we ourselves or our international friends call our country resonate and shine. the same.”

Although the CCP refuses to recognize the Republic of China, Chinese leaders are even more alarmed by references to “Taiwan,” which are often interpreted as a sign of support for Taiwanese independence.

“Lai’s statement that prosperous coexistence should be a common goal for the two sides echoes Beijing’s recent call for him to choose between peaceful development or confrontation,” said Danny Russel, vice president of international security and diplomacy at the Asia Society Policy Institute.

But his promise not to give in or provoke and maintain the status quo “will surely fail with Beijing,” added Russel, who was deputy secretary of state under US President Barack Obama. “There is virtually nothing Lai could have said, short of ‘unconditional surrender,’ that would satisfy Beijing.”

Lai also faces attempts by opposition parties to expand the powers of the legislature (in which he lacks a majority) and weaken security legislation. On Monday he urged his internal rivals to avoid political gains at the expense of national interests.

He vowed to expand Taiwan’s global role by leveraging its strength in the semiconductor industry and pledged to make the country’s economic growth more inclusive and strengthen social security.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington looked forward to “working with President Lai and across Taiwan’s political spectrum to advance our shared interests and values, deepen our long-standing unofficial relationship, and maintain peace and stability.” through the Taiwan Strait.”

Japan Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi called Taiwan an “extremely crucial partner and important friend” in congratulatory comments that expressed hopes of further deepening their relationship.

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