Thursday, June 13, 2024

New president of Taiwan urges China to cease military intimidation

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Lai Ching-te, the new president of Taiwan, has said China must cease its political and military intimidation of his country to ensure the “world is free from the fear of war”.

“Peace is priceless, and war has no winners,” the 64-year-old said in his inaugural address on Monday. He urged Beijing, which has threatened to invade the island nation of 23.5 million, to respect Taiwanese democracy and “choose dialogue over confrontation”.

Mr Lai made his address to a crowd that included hundreds of foreign dignitaries, outside the Japanese colonial-era presidential office in central Taipei. He spoke after a lighthearted and colourful celebration featuring a giant blue “rain horse” blowing smoke from its nostrils.

The president, however, was deadly serious when he emphasised Taiwan’s central role in maintaining calm amid growing tensions in the Indo-Pacific region.

“Taiwan needs the world, just as the world needs Taiwan,” he said, referring to its strategic position. Taiwan forms part of the “first island chain” – a line of archipelagos from Russia’s Kuril Islands to the Malay Peninsula which acts as a natural barrier to China’s Pacific expansion ambitions.

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