Lai Ching-te Sworn In As Taiwan President Amid Long-Standing Struggle With China

China has also branded the 64-year-old Lai as a "dangerous separatist" who will bring "war and decline" to Taiwan, AFP reported.

Taiwan's new President Lai Ching-te Photo: AP

Lai Ching-te was sworn in as the President of Taiwan on Monday amid its fight for de facto Independence and China's escalating military threats

Beijing has claimed Taiwan as its own territory and has been increasing its threats to annex the self-governing island by force if necessary.

China has also branded the 64-year-old Lai as a "dangerous separatist" who will bring "war and decline" to Taiwan, AFP reported.

Lai is taking over the reigns from Tsai Ing-wen, who led the island through eight years of economic and social development, that too amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Lai has spent the last two-plus years trying to convince the world that he is Tsai Ing-wen 2.0,” said Lev Nachman, an assistant professor at National Chengchi University.

The inaugural ceremony, where Lai and his Vice President-elect Hsiao Bi-khim were sworn in, took place at the Japanese colonial-era Presidential Office Building in Taipei.

Lai and Hsiao are both a part of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

In show of support for the island's democracy, eight heads of state and representatives of 51 international delegations, including the United States, Japan and Canada, were invited.

Taipei, with the support of only 12 allies, lacks diplomatic recognition on the global platform. However, it has its own government, military and currency and the majority of the 23 million population sees itself having a Taiwanese identity, separate from China.


Lai entered politics as mayor of the southern city of Tainan, following which he rose to power as the Vice President. He served as VP during Tsai's second term.

In 2017, Lai described himself as a "pragmatic worker" for the democratic island's independence, drawing disapproval from Beijing.

Since then, he has softened his stance. Lai now supports the maintenance of status quo across the Taiwan Strait and the possibility of talks with Beijing.

Lai will continue Tsai's efforts towards strengthened ties with the United States, which though doesn't recognise Taiwan as a country formally but by its own laws, is bound to provide the island with defence resources.

However, Nachman said, the greatest uncertainty for Lai might come from Washington. A new Donald Trump administration could throw off whatever balance Tsai has achieved in Taipei's relations with Washington and Beijing, he added.


Notably, under Tsai's leadership, Taiwan became the first in Asia to recognise and legalise same-sex marriage. Though critics said that by leaving the decision to the Supreme Court and a series of referendums, she avoided political responsibility.

The 67-year-old leader was also Taiwan's first female President and one of Asia's few female leaders who did not come from a political background.

Beijing had termed Tsai to be a "separatist" after she refused to acknowledge the 1992 Consensus agreement which said Taiwan as a part of 'One China'.

Though Tsai kept the doors open for communication, China refused to speak to her and escalated military and economic pressure on the island.

China has been sending warplanes and naval vessels on a regular-basis to maintain its presence and pressure on the island.

Tsai supervised a controversial pension and labour reform and extended military conscription length to a year. She also started a military modernisation drive, including a program for building indigenous submarines, costing over USD 16 billion each.

Tsai's efforts towards keeping the Covid-19 virus largely outside Taiwan's borders but, the lack of investment in rapid testing was criticised.

(With agency inputs)