The new president of Taiwan has a strong foreign policy position

The Associated Press

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — In a campaign ad for Taiwan’s President-elect Lai Ching-te, incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen was shown driving with Lai in the passenger seat, exchanging reflections on their years governing together.
Lai is also expected to build on some of Tsai’s domestic reforms, despite political gridlock.
Tsai, 67, has been Taiwan’s first female president and one of Asia’s few female leaders who didn’t hail from a political dynasty.
During Tsai’s years in office, China poached almost half of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, bringing the remaining number to 12.
She also elevated Taiwan’s standing on the international stage, said outgoing Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.
‘TSAI 2.0’ Lai, who served as vice president during Tsai’s second term, came across as more of a firebrand earlier in his career.
The party’s poor performance in the 2022 elections led to Tsai resigning as party chairwoman.
“Much of President Tsai’s government’s success comes from the foreign policy and related international outreach fronts, and in terms of making inroads on the much more grassroots party machinery level, for example, those still have room for improvement,” Sung said.

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Taiwan’s President-elect Lai Ching-te appeared in a campaign ad featuring incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen and Lai in the passenger seat, exchanging thoughts about their years of joint government. Later, Tsai gave Lai the reins for driving, and Lai was joined by running buddy Bi-khim Hsiao.

The message was clear: Lai would lead the island in the path established by Tsai, who was prohibited from running for office again after eight years in office.

On Monday, Lai, 64, will start work. Seeking to uphold peace with China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory to be retaken by force if necessary, while simultaneously fostering Taiwan’s informal alliance with the United States is necessary to carry on Tsai’s legacy.

Despite the impasse in politics, Lai is also anticipated to expand on some of Tsai’s domestic reforms. It is now difficult for Lai to pass legislation, including approving budgets for the national defense, because her Democratic Progressive Party, led by Tsai, has lost the majority in the legislature.

Tsai, 67, is one of the few female leaders in Asia who is not descended from a political dynasty and the first female president of Taiwan. Protecting the island’s sovereignty from China while reestablishing it as a reliable ally for the U.S. will be central to her legacy. S. and additional democracies. In addition, she will be known for guiding Taiwan through the COVID-19 years, approving same-sex marriage, and launching the modernization of the island’s armed forces.

She has a high approval rating when she leaves the office. 42 percent of respondents to a recent survey conducted by broadcaster TVBS expressed satisfaction with her eight-year tenure. Ma Ying-jeou, her predecessor, had an approval rating of about 23% when she left office.

Taiwan’s identity is changing, which is partially reflected in Tsai’s popularity. Most citizens now identify as Taiwanese rather than Chinese, and they prefer to be run independently of Beijing. Ever since the 1949 civil war that drove the Nationalists from the mainland and gave the Communist Party control over China, the governments of Taiwan and China have alternated.

Tsai diverged from the Kuomintang, the previous ruling party, and its more China-friendly policies. Taiwan expert Shelley Rigger of Davidson College stated that many Taiwanese were feeling uneasy about the frequent exchanges with Beijing by the end of Ma’s term.

After Tsai refused to recognize the 1992 Consensus, which states that Taiwan is a part of “One China,” Beijing referred to her as a separatist. But even as Tsai distanced herself from Beijing, she kept lines of communication open.

Wen-Ti Sung, a fellow at the Washington-based think tank Atlantic Council, stated that President Tsai “has always said that Taiwan, under her leadership, is happy, willing and eager to have dialogue with Beijing, just not on terms unilaterally imposed by Beijing.”.

Along with refusing to communicate with Tsai, China has increased economic and military pressure on the island, deploying military aircraft and warships close to it on a daily basis.

Beijing forbids formal ties between Taipei and nations with which it maintains diplomatic relations. It stepped up its efforts to entice the island’s few diplomatic allies during Tsai’s administration. China stole nearly half of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies during Tsai’s term in office, leaving just twelve.

Tsai retaliated by expanding military spending, which included developing submarines, and broadening trade partnerships. According to departing Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, she also improved Taiwan’s reputation internationally.

He described her leadership style as “extremely moderate, but at the same time very firm in dealing with any kind of international pressure.”.

According to Bonnie Glaser, the head of the Indo-Pacific program at the US German Marshall Fund, “she strengthened awareness of Taiwan around the world and its ties with the international community.”.

“TSAI 2-point 0”.

Early in his career, Lai—who held the position of vice president during Tsai’s second term—came across as more of a firebrand. When he identified himself as a “pragmatic worker for Taiwan’s independence” in 2017, Beijing took offense. Since then, he has changed his mind and is now in favor of keeping things as they are on the other side of the Taiwan Strait and exploring the possibility of holding negotiations with Beijing.

Lev Nachman, an assistant professor at National Chengchi University, stated that Lai has been fighting to prove to the world that he is Tsai Ing-wen 2.0 for the past two and a half years.

Lai will expand on Tsai’s attempts to fortify relations with the U.S. s. which, although not officially acknowledging Taiwan as a separate nation, is required by law to arm the island with self-defense weapons.

In some ways, Washington may be the source of Lai’s biggest uncertainty regarding foreign policy. Nachman noted that any equilibrium Tsai has managed to establish between Taipei’s relations with Beijing and Washington could be upset by a Donald Trump administration.

UPCOMING THINGS AT HOME.

While some argue that Tsai avoided political accountability by delegating the decision to the Supreme Court and a series of referendums, Taiwan became the first society in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage during her administration.

She also oversaw the one-year military conscription and a contentious reform of labor and pensions. She also initiated a drive for military modernization, which included a plan to build domestic submarines at a cost of more than $16 billion apiece.

The public’s perception of Tsai’s leadership during the COVID pandemic was divided; while most people praised Taiwan’s early success in keeping the virus mostly outside its borders, others criticized the country’s lack of investment in quick testing as the pandemic spread.

The DPP has historically had dismal performance in local elections, according to Sung of the Atlantic Council, which can be attributed to Tsai’s uneven domestic policy record. Tsai resigned as party chairwoman as a result of the party’s dismal performance in the 2022 elections. Additionally, the DPP lost its majority in the legislature even though Lai won the presidential race.

“The foreign policy and related international outreach fronts account for a large portion of President Tsai’s administration’s success, and there is still room for improvement, for example, in terms of making inroads on the much more grassroots party machinery level,” Sung stated.

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