Taiwan's new President calls on China to cease its "political and military intimidation"

Taiwan China

Taiwan's newly sworn President Lai Ching-te, in a stern warning to China, has called on Beijing to stop intimidating the island nation, over which China continues to make its claim.

In his inauguration address, Lai called on Beijing "to cease their political and military intimidation against Taiwan, share with Taiwan the global responsibility of maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait as well as the greater region, and ensure the world is free from the fear of war."

Lai's remarks come after taking office on Monday as Taiwan's new president and kicking off the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) historic third consecutive term in office, CNN reported.

Lai, 64, is a diplomatic veteran in politics, comes from the DPP's more radical wing and was once an outspoken advocate of Taiwan's independence, which Beijing finds unacceptable.

China never forgot his remarks from six years ago, when he referred to himself as a "practical worker for Taiwan independence," even though his opinions have now softened, reported CNN.

Lai, a former doctor and vice president, was inaugurated alongside newly appointed Vice President Hsiao Bi-khim, who most recently held the position of Taiwan's principal ambassador to the United States.

Beijing publicly despises both the leaders and their party for defending Taiwan's sovereignty. Despite never having ruled the island, China's ruling Communist Party claims it is part of its territory and has threatened to annex the island, using force if necessary.

In his 30-minute inauguration speech, Lai emphasised his resolve to uphold Taiwan's sovereignty while promoting peace and proclaiming that a "glorious era of Taiwan's democracy has arrived," according to CNN.

He also described the island as an "important link" in a "global chain of democracies."

Lai succeeds his DPP predecessor, Tsai Ing-wen, who strengthened the island's status and stature abroad over her eight years in government.
Notably, the term constraints prevented Tsai, the first female president of Taiwan, from running for office again. In an election held in January, Lai defeated opponents from the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party and the Taiwan People's Party.

The contest revolved around a number of issues related to daily life as well as the difficult issue of how to handle China, a massive one-party state that has become more aggressive and powerful under leader Xi Jinping, as per CNN.

In a very subtle move that mirrors that of outgoing Tsai, Lai has now stated that he supports the status quo, stating that "Taiwan is already an independent sovereign country" and that there is "no plan or need" to declare independence.

"Taiwanese independence is a dead end," a spokesperson for China's Foreign Ministry said in response to a question regarding Lai's inauguration during a regular briefing on Monday.

"No matter what pretext or banner one uses, promoting Taiwan independence and secession is doomed to fail," it had said.

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