Taiwan’s president-elect hopes US can continue to support the island

Lai Ching-te’s remarks came during a high-level United States delegation’s visit to Taiwan for a three-day trip.
By Taejun Kang for RFA
2024.01.14
Taipei, Taiwan
Taiwan’s president-elect hopes US can continue to support the island Taiwan President-elect Lai Ching-te of Democratic Progressive Party holds a press conference following the victory in the presidential elections in Taipei, Taiwan on Jan. 13, 2024.
Credit: Ann Wang/Reuters

Updated Jan. 15, 2024, 12:10 a.m. ET

Taiwan’s president-elect Lai Ching-te told a visiting delegation of former senior U.S. officials on Monday that he hopes the United States can continue to support Taiwan.

Lai added his administration will continue to defend peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, according to media reports. 

Lai from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) became Taiwan’s president-elect on Saturday, beating Beijing-favored Hou Yu-ih of the Kuomintang (KMT) and Ko Wen-je of the Taiwan’s People Party (TPP).

His remarks came during the meeting with the high-level U.S. delegation’s three-day trip to the self-governed island to exchange views on bilateral issues and prospects. 

The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the U.S.’s de facto embassy in the island, said in a statement on Sunday a delegation made up of former senior officials, including former National Security Advisor Stephen J. Hadley and former Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg, would be in Taipei and would meet with “a range of leading political figures” on Monday.

ENG_CHN_USdelegationTW_01152024_2.jpg
Former National Security Advisor Stephen J. Hadley (second from right) and AIT Chairman Laura Rosenberger (second from left) in Taipei on Jan. 15, 2024. (Credit: Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

The delegation also met incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen at the presidential office on Monday morning, where Hadley conveyed the American people’s congratulations on the election.

“Taiwan’s democracy has set a shining example to the world,” Hadley said, in comments released by Tsai’s office.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to meet with you today to reaffirm that the American commitment to Taiwan is rock solid, principled and bipartisan and that the United States stands with its friends,” said Hadley, adding that he looked forward to meeting Lai and other political leaders.

“We look forward to continuity in the relationship between Taiwan and the United States under the new administration, and for common efforts to preserve cross-strait peace and stability.”

Lai, the incumbent vice-president, has vowed to continue outgoing President Tsai’s efforts to bolster diplomatic ties with democratic allies and protect the island from “threats and intimidation” by China, which claims Taiwan as its own.

Key strategic allies of Taiwan extended congratulations following his triumph and the elections. Antony Blinken, the U.S. Secretary of State, commended Taiwan for its “strong democratic system and electoral process,” while Japan acclaimed the “seamless execution” of the democratic election.

However, Beijing said the DPP “did not represent mainstream public opinion,” referring to Lai garnering only 40% of the vote and the DPP failing to retain a majority in the legislature, adding that the result would not stop “the inevitable trend of China’s reunification.”

The Chinese foreign ministry on Sunday rebuked the U.S. State Department’s statement on the election as “seriously” in breach of the one-China principle, sending a wrong signal to the “Taiwan independence separatist forces”. 

The ministry’s statement reiterated the “Taiwan question” – which Beijing calls the political foundation of bilateral relations – as the first red line that must not be crossed in US-China ties. 

Separately, China’s mouthpiece publication, Global Times, warned on Sunday that China has “both the strength and determination to resolve the Taiwan question once and for all once Lai crosses the red line,” noting that the initiative on solving the Taiwan question firmly lies with the Chinese mainland.

The AIT said in a statement on Sunday the unofficial visit will “convey congratulations from the American people to Taiwan on its successful elections, support for Taiwan’s continued prosperity and growth, and our longstanding interest in cross-Strait peace and stability.” 

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also said on the same day that the delegation symbolizes bipartisan government support for Taiwan and demonstrates that democratic values are key factors in “propelling Taiwan towards the international stage and embracing the world,” according to the ministry.

When asked to comment on Taiwan’s election during a press briefing on Saturday, U.S. President Joe Biden reiterated Washington’s position of not supporting Taiwan independence.

In contrast to Beijing’s “one China principle,” which holds that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China and that it should be governed from Beijing, Washington espouses a “one China policy” that takes no position on sovereignty over Taiwan. While acknowledging Beijing’s position, Washington does not take a stance on its validity. 

Edited by Elaine Chan and Mike Firn.

Updated to add remarks made by the president-elect Lai Ching-te and former U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen J. Hadley.

 

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