Taiwan’s William Lai clinches 3rd term as president, defies China’s opposition to uphold democratic values

Lai’s victory marks an unprecedented third consecutive presidential term for the pro-sovereignty Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which has governed Taiwan for eight years.

Taiwanese voters have chosen William Lai as their president, solidifying a trajectory increasingly separate from China. This move has angered Beijing, which promptly insisted that “Taiwan is part of China,” leaving the possibility of the use of force.

Lai’s victory marks an unprecedented third consecutive presidential term for the pro-sovereignty Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which has governed Taiwan for eight years. In response to China’s opposition, Lai emphasized that Taiwan would continue on its current path, stating, “We will not turn around or look backwards.”

Addressing concerns of external influence, particularly from China, Lai highlighted the triumph of democracy, asserting that only the people of Taiwan should choose their president. Despite labelling Lai a separatist and troublemaker, Beijing’s criticism did not deter the Taiwanese electorate, with Lai securing 40% of the vote, comfortably ahead of the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) candidate.

While celebrating the victory, Lai conveyed a message of openness to China, advocating for dialogue over conflict. He expressed a commitment to maintaining the cross-strait status quo, neither seeking independence nor unification with China. This nuanced approach aimed at safeguarding Taiwan from potential threats while fostering peaceful relations with China.

Despite Beijing’s insistence that Taiwan’s elections won’t alter their reunification, the United States, Taiwan’s staunch ally, swiftly congratulated Lai on his win. Secretary of State Antony Blinken praised Taiwan’s democratic system and electoral process, emphasizing Washington’s commitment to maintaining cross-strait peace and stability. President Joe Biden reiterated the U.S. stance against supporting independence for Taiwan.

The election also decided the composition of Taiwan’s legislature, with the DPP losing its majority. The opposition gained ground, resulting in a fragmented parliament where no single party holds enough seats for control. Observers suggest that an opposition-dominated legislature alongside a DPP president might introduce challenges to governance.

As supporters celebrated outside the DPP’s headquarters, many expressed a determination to protect Taiwan’s democratic values. Despite potential repercussions from China, citizens of Taiwan voiced a commitment to upholding their beliefs.