Top Asian News 3:20 a.m. GMT

Lai Ching-te inaugurated as Taiwan's president in a transition likely to bolster island's US ties

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Lai Ching-te was sworn in as Taiwan’s new president Monday, beginning a term in which he is expected to continue the self-governing island’s policy of de facto independence from China while seeking to bolster its defenses against Beijing. Thousands of people gathered in front of the Presidential Office Building in Taipei for the ceremony. Donning white bucket hats, the attendees watched on large screens the ceremony’s emcees narrating Lai’s swearing-in ceremony, followed by a military march and colorful artistic performances featuring folk dancers, opera performers and rappers. Military helicopters flew in formation, carrying Taiwan's flag. Lai accepted congratulations from fellow politicians and delegations from the 12 nations that maintain official diplomatic relations with Taiwan, as well as politicians from the U.S., Japan and various European states.