New Taiwan President Issues Warning to China

( – Tensions between Taiwan and China moved up a notch after Taiwan’s newly-inaugurated president issued a strong rebuke against the Asian giant, calling on it to stop its military and political harassment.

In his inauguration speech, Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te called on its larger neighbor to respect Taiwan’s independence and the choice of its people to live independently of China.

“I also want to urge China to stop intimidating Taiwan politically and militarily,” President Lai said, calling on China cooperate with Taiwan instead to “ensure the world is without the fear of war breaking out.”

Taiwan, or formally known as the Republic of China, was formed in the late 1940’s after a civil war between the old government and the newly-emerged Chinese Communist Party. Around 1.2 million people from China, along with the leaders of the pre-communist government flee to the region. Despite this, along with failed attempts to invade the territory, China has repeatedly asserted that Taiwan is one of its provinces, a notion the Taiwanese government and its people have repeatedly rejected in turn.

President Lai’s comments sparked outrage in China, with the Chinese government saying that the new Taiwanese government was sending “dangerous signals,” and accused Lai of being a “separatist.” China’s Taiwan Affairs Office went as far as saying that “Taiwan independence is incompatible with peace in the Taiwan Strait.”

Lai’s inauguration was attended by representatives of the Biden administration, as well as dignitaries from Germany, Japan, Canada, and several other countries that continue to maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

In his congratulatory message to Lai, Antony Blinken, the U.S. Secretary of State, said that the U.S. was looking forward to working with Taiwan to maintain peace along the Taiwan Strait and “advance our shared interests and values.”

Lai’s successful run for president came after serving as vice president for four years under his predecessor and fellow member of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Tsai Ing-wen. Besides facing the threat posed by China, Lai also has to contend with the DPP’s poor showing in the recent elections, with the party losing its majority status in the country’s Parliament. The opposing Kuomintang Party (KMT), hold more seats, but also does not have enough to form a majority. The latter is cooperating with a smaller party, the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), in an attempt to form an alliance and create a majority in the chamber.

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