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He's seizing Taiwan – the promise he made to Xi Jinping |  the world

He's seizing Taiwan – the promise he made to Xi Jinping | the world

William Lai has been sworn in as Taiwan's new president.


William Lai proposed increasing exchanges with China in the fields of tourism and education during his speech.

Photo: Richie B. Tongo/EPA

William Lay.

Photo: Richie B Agency. tongo/EPA/TT/EPATT News Agency

Chinese leader Xi Jinping.


Fighter jets flew over Taipei on this humid morning as part of the inauguration of Taiwan's new president. When William Lai, known as the “golden son of Taiwan independence,” prepared his inauguration speech outside the grand presidential palace in the style of Japanese architecture, it was not only his countrymen who were moved.

Leaders in China, who had ramped up their military activities ahead of the ceremony, listened with at least as much interest. This week, 15 Chinese warplanes crossed the median line in the narrow, 160-kilometre Taiwan Strait. A few days ago, a record number of eleven Chinese ships entered the restricted waters, just seven kilometers from the Kinmen Archipelago in the same strait.

A chuckle spread through the crowd, sitting on folding chairs in straight lines outside the palace, as the big screen showed how arch-enemy Han Kuo-yu, of the pro-China opposition Kuomintang party, was first forced to hand over the presidential book to William. for any. At the same time, the scene served as a solemn reminder of the difficult task that now also awaits at the internal level.

Han Kuo Yew is the new president of Parliament, which has been in disarray since the ruling Democratic Progressive Party lost its majority there in January elections. This week, a lawmaker was taken to hospital with a concussion after a fight over bills, while hundreds of angry voters gathered outside. The atmosphere is tense and chaos is expected to continue when Parliament reopens tomorrow.

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Performances leading up to the day's speech focused explicitly on Taiwan's special cultural identity and diversity, with raucous dances by ethnic minorities. Signs and large screens read only Taiwan, rather than the official name of the Republic of China, which is the name preferred by the opposition.

This framework showed how William Lai intends to continue pushing the line of his representative Tsai Ing-wen, who openly rejects that Taiwan and China belong to the same nation. This view has popular support, but it angers Beijing enough to reject dialogue with the government in Taipei.

Truly, the new president received the biggest applause when he described Taiwan as a “wonderful nation.” The speech was also full of references to Taiwan's own identity as Asia's first democracy, an identity that must be defended; This is through force, not concessions.

But the speech also contained small olive branches. William Lai proposed increasing exchanges with China in tourism and education, which have almost completely faded away after years of pandemic and political tensions. He also called for internal unity using the term Republic of China, pledging to maintain the status quo rather than pursue the cause of formal independence.

However, the status quo equation and talk of Taiwan as a major democratic state does not sit well with China, which hates William Lai more than Tsai Ing-wen.

So fighter jets risk becoming a more common feature of wild dances in the next four years – especially in light of an increasingly emboldened opposition whose contacts with China are closer than those of the government.

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