New Taiwan President Ching-te urges China to stop threats

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Lai Ching-te took office as Taiwan’s new president on Monday.

He was sworn in at Taipei’s historic presidential office, succeeding Tsai Ing-wen after serving as her vice president for four years.

Ching-te said in his inauguration speech that peace is the only choice, and that Beijing had to respect the choice of the Taiwanese people.

“The future of the Taiwan Strait plays a decisive role in the future of the world, and as the people who take over the democratic progress of Taiwan, the new government will steer peace and maintain the status quo, being neither overbearing nor self-effacing. I also want to call on China to stop threatening Taiwan politically and militarily, to take on global responsibility for the maintenance peace and stability, and to ensure the world is free from the fear of war,” said Chinge-te.

In attendance at the ceremony were former US officials, lawmakers from various countries, and leaders from some of the 12 nations maintaining diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Chinge-te said that people must be realistic about the threat posed by China, and the island must show its determination to defend itself.

“We have the ideal to pursue peace, but we must not have illusions. As long as China does not give up using force to invade Taiwan, citizens must understand this: Even if we accept all of China’s claims and give up our sovereignty, China’s ambition to annex Taiwan will not disappear,” Ching-te further added.

China did not respond immediately, despite previously labeling Lai a ‘separatist’.

Since his election victory in January, Taiwan has faced continuous pressure from China Courtesy: Taiwan Coast Guard – including frequent air force and navy activities near the island.

Beijing sees democratic Taiwan as part of its territory, and hasn’t ruled out using force to bring it under its control.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken congratulated Lai, saying the United States looked forward to working with him ‘to maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.’