Taiwan | President-elect thanks the United States for its “strong support”

(Taipei) Taiwan President-designate Lai Ching-te on Monday thanked the United States for its “strong support for Taiwanese democracy” during a meeting with an informal American delegation in Taipei, amid growing pressure from China.

“I am grateful to the United States for its strong support for Taiwanese democracy, which demonstrates the close and strong partnership between Taiwan and the United States,” Lai Ching-te said, two days after his election.

And “even as China continues to harass Taiwan through military and other activities, Taiwan faces (the situation) with calm and equanimity and works with like-minded partners, including the United States, to maintain the status quo peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” he added.

A little earlier, the delegation had met outgoing President Tsai Ing-wen, like Lai Ching-te from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), who welcomed a “very significant visit” which “fully demonstrates the support of the United States to Taiwanese democracy.

Made up of former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, former Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg and President of the American Institute in Taiwan Laura Rosenberger, the commission is due to leave Taiwan on Tuesday.

“We are here to extend our congratulations to you and the people of Taiwan on the presidential and legislative elections held on January 13,” said Stephen Hadley, hailing Taiwanese democracy as “an example for the entire world.” .

“Strong informal partnership”

This is not the first time that Washington has sent an informal delegation to Taiwan after an election: in 2016, former Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns came two days after the election of Tsai Ing-wen as president of the island.

This visit comes at the end of an electoral campaign marked by growing pressure, both diplomatic and military, from China, which considers Taiwan as one of its provinces, to be reunified by force if necessary.

Lai Ching-te, outgoing vice president, considers the island to be de facto independent and has promised to protect it from “threats and intimidation” from Beijing.

The status of Taiwan is arguably the most explosive topic in relations between China and the United States.

If Washington has recognized Beijing to the detriment of Taipei since 1979, the American Congress has at the same time imposed the provision of weapons to Taiwan, with the stated aim of dissuading China from any expansionist desire.

The delegation’s sending aims to “clearly communicate to the president-designate (…) the importance of a strong informal partnership, and to be clear on what the US one-China policy is and what it is not,” explained, before the visit, a senior American official on condition of anonymity.

This trip risks irritating China, which had already, during the campaign, urged Washington to “not interfere” in the presidential election in Taiwan.

Beijing castigated the message from the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken, who had praised the “solid democratic system” of the island, saying that this “sends a profoundly erroneous signal to separatist forces in favor of “Taiwan independence ””.

“Severely punished”

China insisted on Saturday evening that the outcome of this election did not change anything in “the inevitable trend towards the reunification of China”, pledging to “firmly oppose separatist activities aimed at independence of Taiwan as well as foreign interference.

“If anyone on the island of Taiwan intends to move towards independence, they (…) will attempt to divide Chinese territory and will certainly be severely punished by history and the law,” warned Sunday Wang Yi, the head of Chinese diplomacy.

“It’s a dead end,” he added, because “Taiwan has never been a country. It hasn’t been in the past and it certainly won’t be in the future.”

Lai Ching-te, 64, will take office on May 20, alongside his vice-president, Hsiao Bi-khim, former representative of Taipei in Washington.

The one who, in the past, had defined himself as “a pragmatic architect of Taiwan’s independence”, has since softened his speech: now, like Tsai Ing-wen, he adopts a more nuanced position, affirming that an independence process is not necessary because the island has, according to him, de facto this status.

Promising to be “on the side of democracy”, the president-elect also plans to “continue exchanges and cooperation with China”, the first commercial partner of Taiwan, a territory of 23 million inhabitants located 180 kilometers from Chinese coasts.

A conflict in the strait separating them would be disastrous for the global economy: more than 50% of the containers transported in the world transit there and the island produces 70% of the planet’s semiconductors.

reference: www.lapresse.ca

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