5 March 2024

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Taiwan VP Stands Firm Amid Authoritarian Threats on US Visit

On a visit to the US, vice president William Lai assured supporters that Taiwan would neither tremble or yield in the face of authoritarian threats. William Lai, who is also expected to win Taiwan’s presidential election in January, is currently in the United States for what is formally a transit stop on his route to Paraguay for the inauguration of that country’s new president. Just 13 countries have diplomatic ties with the island that China claims as its own, including Paraguay.

Both Taiwan and the US said that the stops, which included one in San Francisco on the way back, were routine.

Taiwan Vice President William Lai, who was visiting the US for a brief period, was criticised by China on Sunday, calling him a separatist and a “troublemaker through and through,” and Beijing promised to take serious measures to defend its sovereignty. This developed an answer from Taipei. Lai’s arrival was quickly followed by a statement from China’s foreign ministry that it “firmly opposes” any formal contact between the US and Taiwan as well as any “‘Taiwan independence’ separatists to the US.” China issued a statement in which it stated that it “strongly condemns” the US plan to set up the alleged “stopover.” Lai is persistently holding on to the separatist position for “Taiwan independence.” He’s a troublemaker down to his very core,” it went on. In January 2022, Lai last travelled via the US. Lai’s latest trip through the US was in January 2022.

Taiwan VP Defends Island Against Authoritarian Threats on US Trip

According to Taiwan’s presidential office, Lai said on Sunday during a luncheon for supporters in New York that “if Taiwan is safe, the world is safe, and if the Taiwan Strait is peaceful, then the world is peaceful.”

“No matter how great the threat of authoritarianism is to Taiwan, we absolutely will not be scared nor cower, we will uphold the values of democracy and freedom,” he declared.

Lai’s prior description of himself as a “practical worker for Taiwan independence”—a red line for Beijing, which has never renounced using force to annex the island—has made China particularly unimpressed with him.

Taiwan VP

Lai, who has promised to maintain peace and the status quo, confirmed in New York that he was “very willing” to speak with China and pursue peace and stability on the basis of dignity and parity, according to Reuters.

But Lai maintained that he would defend independence, that only citizens could decide the island’s destiny, and that Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China are “not subordinate to each other.”

Both Taipei and Washington want the US stopovers to be low-key and have asked China to refrain from acting provocatively in return.

Chinese military exercises are expected to begin this week near Taiwan, according to Taiwanese authorities, who plan to use Lai’s stops there as an excuse to terrify voters ahead of a general election next year and instill a “fear of war” in them.

Ingrid Larson, managing director of the American Institute in Taiwan, a U.S. government run non-profit that manages informal contacts with Taiwan, attended Lai’s address.

China considers Taiwan as its top diplomatic priority, which causes ongoing tension between Beijing and Washington, the island’s main foreign backer and armaments supplier.