Lai Ching-te, the current vice president of Taiwan from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), has clinched the Taiwanese presidency with 40% of the vote, defeating the Beijing-favored Kuomintang (33%) and Taiwan People's Party (26%).
About the president-elect: Lai, 64, is a former doctor who entered politics in 1996, driven by a deep commitment to safeguarding Taiwan's democracy, as per CNN. His 27-year political career has seen him serve as a lawmaker, mayor, premier, vice president and now president-elect, advocating for stronger ties with the U.S. and other liberal democracies. His victory as president marked a historic third consecutive presidential term for the DPP.
"Taiwan is telling the world that, between democracy and authoritarianism, it chooses to stand on the side of democracy,” Lai said in his victory speech. "The Taiwanese people have successfully rebuffed the intervention of external forces with their actions because we believed that our president should be chosen by ourselves. The country will continue to walk on the right path. It won't change course, let alone turn around."
On engaging with China: Lai faces the challenge of navigating heightened tensions with China, which sees Taiwan as a breakaway province. Pledging to maintain peace across the Taiwan Strait, Lai expressed a willingness to engage with Beijing based on dignity and parity.
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"We will use exchanges to replace obstructionism, dialogue to replace confrontation, and confidently pursue exchanges and cooperation with China," he said.
What the U.S. is saying: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken congratulated Lai on his victory, noting that the U.S. "is committed to maintaining cross-strait peace and stability, and the peaceful resolution of differences, free from coercion and pressure."
While the U.S. has sustained unofficial relations with Taiwan, it has maintained support for the “One China” policy. When asked for a reaction to Lai’s victory, President Joe Biden stated, “We do not support independence.”
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International responses: Other world leaders reacted diversely to Taiwan's election results. Japan extended warm congratulations to Lai, while others like France and the EU acknowledged the democratic process without mentioning Lai or his party. South Korea emphasized the importance of peace across the Taiwan Strait, while Russia firmly backed China's claims to the island.
Other congratulatory messages came from Singapore, Australia, Eswatini, Paraguayan President Santiago Pena, Lithuanian parliament speaker Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen, Germany's Federal Foreign Office and the Dalai Lama.
China’s reaction: China swiftly dismissed the outcome of the recent elections, asserting that the DPP does not represent mainstream public opinion. Following Lai’s win, Chen Binhua, spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, declared, "Taiwan is China's Taiwan."
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China also criticized statements from Blinken and British Foreign Minister David Cameron and warned against interference in its internal affairs. Meanwhile, the Chinese Foreign Ministry and its embassies globally condemned foreign governments for congratulating Lai, slamming the DPP as "secessionist forces."
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