Lai Ching-te: Taiwan’s new president is sworn in for a historic third term for the ruling party after voters ignored China’s warning.

Sam Ye/AFP/Getty Images/File

Lai Tsing-tae, pictured earlier this month, was sworn in as Taiwan’s president on Monday.


Taipei
CNN

Lai Ching-de took office of Taiwan President Monday marked the start of a historic third consecutive term for the island’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which has faced off against democracy. Years of growing threats From dictatorship China.

Lai, 64, a former doctor, was sworn in alongside new Vice President Hsiao Bi-Kim, who recently served as Taiwan’s top ambassador to the United States.

Both leaders and their parties are openly loathed by Beijing for championing Taiwan’s sovereignty. China’s ruling Communist Party says the self-governing democracy is part of its territory and has vowed to seize the island by force if necessary, although it has never controlled it.

Lai takes over the mantle from the DPP Pioneer Tsai Ing-wenHe raised the island’s international standing and recognition during his eight-year tenure.

In her inauguration speech later Monday, Lai is expected to emphasize that she will build on the foundation achieved by Sai, the island’s first female leader, according to a memo obtained by CNN. He is expected to extend goodwill to China with a message to pursue peace and prosperity across the Taiwan Strait.

let go won The January election, pitted against rivals from the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party and the Taiwan People’s Party, was fought over a combination of livelihood issues and the thorny question of how to deal with China, its giant one-party state neighbor. It has grown more powerful and belligerent under President Xi Jinping.

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Voters are shrugging off warnings from Beijing that the TPP’s re-election would increase the risk of conflict. The DPP views Taiwan as a de facto sovereign state to strengthen its defenses against threats from China and deepen ties with fellow democracies, whether that means economic punishment or military intimidation by Beijing.

Lai himself has backed this view – calling his victory a “victory for a democratic society” after the election results were announced.

A soft-spoken political veteran, Lai hails from a radical faction of the DPP and was once an outspoken supporter of Taiwan independence — a red line for Beijing.

Although his views have since softened, China has never forgiven him for his comments six years ago, in which he described himself as a “practical activist for Taiwan independence.”

Ahead of the election, Chinese officials repeatedly framed the vote as a choice between “peace and war,” while blaming Lai for fueling the conflict.

Lai now says he supports the status quo, declaring that “Taiwan is already an independent sovereign country” and therefore has “no plan or need” to declare independence.

The deliberately nuanced stance reflects a nod to her predecessor, Taiwan’s first female president, who was unable to stand again due to term limits.

Under Xi’s strong-arm tactics in the twelve years since he came to power, Taiwan’s public has firmly distanced itself from China. Less than 10% now support immediate or eventual unification, and less than 3% identify primarily as Chinese.

The majority of Taiwanese want to maintain the status quo and do not want to be ruled by Beijing.

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Meanwhile, Beijing has increased diplomatic, economic and military pressure on Taiwan. Tensions across the Taiwan Strait have been at their highest since 1996, when China launched missiles off the coast of Taiwan to intimidate voters ahead of the island’s first independent presidential election.

Lai’s formal inauguration is unlikely to resume official communication between Beijing and Taipei, severed since Tsai’s inauguration — China has repeatedly rejected his offer of talks and denounced him as a dangerous separatist.

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