New president takes office

New chapter begins: Lai (centre) flanked by his wife Wu Mei-Ju (left) and Hsiao during his inauguration ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Taipei. — Bloomberg

Lai Ching-te was sworn in as president of the democratic island in the face of growing Chinese military pressure and a hostile parliament.

Lai succeeded Tsai Ing-wen yesterday in a ceremony closely watched by China, which claims the island as part of its territory, and the United States, its key partner and weapons provider.

Lai, whose staunch defence of Taiwan’s sovereignty has enraged Beijing, is expected to boost defence spending and strengthen ties with Washington during his four-year term in a bid to deter China from seizing the island.

China considers Taiwan as part of its territory and has long threatened to use force to bring the island under its control.

Domestically, Lai also faces another challenge after his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lost its majority in the legislature in the January elections, meaning it will be hard for him to push through his policies.

On Sunday, Lai vowed to “continue to walk on the path of democracy”.

“We will continue to engage with the world to make Taiwan stronger,” Lai, 64, said.

As Lai took the helm yesterday, Chinese state media reported Beijing imposed sanctions on three US defence companies over their sales of weapons to Taipei.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, meanwhile, congratulated Lai, saying he was looking forward to Washington and Taipei deepening ties and maintaining “peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait”.

Yesterday’s inauguration ceremony was held at the Japanese colonial-era Presidential Office Building in Taipei, with Lai’s deputy Hsiao Bi-khim also sworn into office.

In a show of support for the island’s democracy, eight heads of state and representatives of 51 international delegations attended the ceremony – including from the United States, Japan and Canada.

More than a thousand performers showcasing traditional operas and dances took part in a celebration that also included an Air Force aerial formation to salute the new president.

Lai and Hsiao – arguably better known on the global stage due to her former role as Taiwan’s top envoy to Washington – are both part of the DPP, which has championed Taiwan’s sovereignty.

Lai’s inaugural speech will be scrutinised for clues on how he will handle Taipei’s delicate relationship with Beijing.

Lai previously described himself as a “pragmatic worker for Taiwan independence”, but has since toned down his rhetoric.

More recently, he has vowed to maintain the “status quo” on the Taiwan Strait, which means preserving Taiwan’s sovereignty while not formally declaring independence. — AFP

Follow us on our official WhatsApp channel for breaking news alerts and key updates!



Next In Aseanplus News

Olympic dream over for men's archery recurve team
Swimming-Richards urges IOC to help with tickets after parents scammed
Olympics-G7 backed French truce proposal, Italy PM says
Vehicle ferrying 13 Orang Asli students suffers brake failure, overturns
Don’t pin failure to solve Sabah water woes on others, says Shafie
Southern Tigers maul Kelantan to reach FA Cup quarter-finals
Athletics-Teenager Wanyonyi makes statement with blistering 800 at Kenyan trials
Asean News Headlines at 10pm on Saturday (June 15, 2024)
Muslim pilgrims converge at Mount Arafat for daylong worship as Haj reaches its peak
North Korea building walls along border with South, Yonhap report

Others Also Read