Taiwan’s newly-elected president Lai Ching-te vows to protect island from Chinese ‘threats’

Lai Ching-te vows to protect Taiwan from Chinese threats. Photo Courtesy: Lai Ching-te X page

Taiwan’s newly elected president, Lai Ching-te, said on Saturday (January 14, 2024) that he was committed to protecting the island from alleged threats and intimidation from mainland China.

“We are determined to protect Taiwan from China’s continued threats and intimidation,” Lai said during a press conference as quoted by Sputnik.

He also announced his intention to maintain the status quo in the Taiwan Strait and use dialogue instead of confrontation “to confidently continue exchanges and cooperation with China.”

“If there is parity and dignity, Taiwan is keen to engage in dialogue and cooperation with China for the benefit of the peoples on both sides of the strait to create a peaceful and prosperous environment,” the politician added.

Lai Ching-te, candidate of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP), won the Taiwan election held on Saturday, January 13.

China’s reaction

Maintaining its longstanding stance, China said on Saturday “reunification” with Taiwan was still “inevitable” after president-elect Lai Ching-te won the critical election on the self-ruled island, AFP reported.

The election “will not impede the inevitable trend of China’s reunification”, Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Chen Binhua said in a statement published by state news agency Xinhua.

The spokesperson was quoted as saying that the vote “will not change the basic landscape and development trend of cross-Strait relations”. 

He said Beijing “firmly oppose(s) the separatist activities aimed at ‘Taiwan independence’ as well as foreign interference”.

Chen Binhua asserted that the results did not “represent mainstream public opinion on the island” of 23 million people.

US reaction

The US, which is Taiwan’s strongest military partner, said it does “not support independence’ of Taiwan. “We do not support independence…” US President Joe Biden was quoted by Reuters as saying when asked for reaction to Saturday’s elections.

In the past, the United States had committed to supporting whichever government comes into power. Demonstrating solidarity with the government, President Biden intends to send an informal delegation to the self-governed island, according to a senior official from the Biden administration.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken congratulated Lai Ching-te on his victory and said the US “is committed to maintaining cross-strait peace and stability, and the peaceful resolution of differences, free from coercion and pressure.” He said the US looks forward to working with Lai and leaders of all parties in Taiwan to advance their “longstanding unofficial relationship, consistent with the US one China policy.”