Defying China, Taiwan elects William Lai Ching-te as president

user avatar Author: Editors Desk Source: The Economist
January 13, 2024 at 14:57
Image: AFP
Image: AFP

It will have to cope with China’s anger

Taiwan’s voters chose William Lai Ching-te of the Democratic Progressive Party (dpp) as their new president on January 13th, ushering in an unprecedented third term for the pro-independence ruling party. It was a pivotal election that will determine the democratic island’s approach to Chinese threats over the next four years amid a simmering superpower rivalry between China and America.

“Taiwan is telling the whole world that between democracy and authoritarianism, we choose to stand on the side of democracy,” Mr Lai told his victory rally on election night. His victory is a sign that Taiwanese voters want to continue along the path set by the current president, Tsai Ing-wen, of asserting Taiwan’s status as a sovereign, democratic country—“the world’s Taiwan”, as Ms Tsai often says, rather than China’s Taiwan. That stance infuriates China, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory. China’s ruler, Xi Jinping, recently called unification with Taiwan a “historical inevitability”. Chinese officials had tried to intimidate Taiwan’s voters by calling this election a choice between “war and peace, prosperity and decline”, and denouncing the dpp as separatists.

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