Taiwan elects William Lai Ching as new president despite China’s warnings

Beijing labels William Lai Ching “severe danger” prior to ballot, advises voters to avoid him

Taiwan President-elect Lai Ching-te, of Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) gestures as he attends a rally following the victory in the presidential elections, in Taipei, Taiwan January 13, 2024. — Reuters
  • Lai Ching-te vows to protect Taiwan as new president.
  • He expresses gratitude to voters for support.
  • China declares Lai Ching-te a dangerous threat

William Lai Ching-te of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won Taiwan’s presidential election despite China’s warnings not to support him. 

After voters ignored Beijing’s threats and overwhelmingly supported him in the election, Taiwan’s president-elect, Lai Ching-te, pledged on Saturday to protect the self-governing island from “intimidation” by China which claims Taiwan as part of its territory according to AFP.

Following an intense campaign in which he positioned himself as the protector of Taiwan’s democratic way of life, Lai — whom Beijing has branded as a threat to peace in the volatile region — secured an unprecedented third consecutive term for the DPP in the poll.

The democratic Taiwan, which is divided from the mainland by a strait measuring 180 kilometres (110 miles), is claimed by Communist China, which is willing to use force to achieve “unification” even in the absence of an immediate threat to peace.

Beijing, which labelled Lai a “severe danger” prior to the ballot and advised voters to avoid him, declared that the outcome would not halt “the inevitable trend of China’s reunification.”

During his victory address, Lai promised to protect Taiwan from Chinese aggression while also preserving peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

“We are determined to safeguard Taiwan from continuing threats and intimidation from China,” he told supporters.

After counting the ballots from every polling place, the Central Election Commission said that Lai had received 40.1% of the total, more than opposition Kuomintang (KMT) candidate Hou Yu-ih, who received 33.5%.

Beijing and Washington were keenly following the election as the two heavyweights competed for influence in the strategically important area.

Lai expressed gratitude to the people of Taiwan for “writing a new chapter in our democracy” and for heeding the threats and admonitions sent by China, a one-party state.

“We are telling the international community that between democracy and authoritarianism, we will stand on the side of democracy,” he said, adding that he will also try to pursue exchanges with China.

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