On May 20th, Tsai Ing-wen was sworn as President of Taiwan for her second term, and formally commenced her four-year term.
Tsai, 63, of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), was sworn in a simple ceremony that was broadcast on television and live streamed on social media.
Former Premier Lai Ching-te then was sworn in as vice president, succeeding Chen Chien-jen, who stepped down after one term.
In her inauguration speech, Tsain Ing-wen said that Taiwan wanted dialogue with China, but refused its proposal for “one country, two systems.”
“Both sides have a duty to find a way to coexist over the long term and prevent the intensification of antagonism and differences,” she said.
Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party won January’s presidential and parliamentary elections by a landslide.
Their primary election promise was that they would stand up to China, which claims Taiwan as its own and has not ruled out the use of force to achieve its objective.
“Here, I want to reiterate the words ‘peace, parity, democracy, and dialogue’. We will not accept the Beijing authorities’ use of ‘one country, two systems’ to downgrade Taiwan and undermine the cross-strait status quo. We stand fast by this principle,” Tsai said.
Tsai said Taiwan is an independent state called the Republic of China, its official name, and does not want to be part of the People’s Republic of China.
In a stern response from China’s Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, spokesperson Ma Xiaoguang issued a statement.
“We will never allow any room for Taiwan independence in any kind of form. China has a strong will, and enough confidence as well as the capability to defend sovereignty and its territory.”
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said China would stick to ‘one country, two systems’ and “not leave any space for Taiwan independence separatist activities”. It added that reunification was an “historical inevitability”.
The Global Times outlet, meanwhile, quoted a Chinese spokesperson saying that Tsai’s party “gangs up with foreign powers to hinder peace of Taiwan Straits and use (the) pandemic to attain separatist goals.”
Taiwan was “severely damaging” the peace and stability of the region, it added.
On May 19th, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a congratulations to Tsai Ing-wen prior to her inauguration.
Congratulations to Dr. Tsai Ing-wen on the commencement of your second-term as Taiwan’s President. Taiwan’s vibrant democracy is an inspiration to the region and the world. With President Tsai at the helm, our partnership with Taiwan will continue to flourish.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) May 19, 2020
Tsai in response said in a tweet that she looks forward to “furthering our friendship based on our many shared values and interests.”
Joe Biden, who is challenging Trump for the US presidency in November also posted a message on Twitter.
“Taiwan’s thriving democracy and response to COVID-19 are an example to the world,” he wrote. “America’s support for Taiwan must remain strong, principled and bipartisan.”
The tensions in the South China Sea have been ramping up in recent months, with United States warships passing through the region, the majority of which Beijing claims as its own.
At the same time, China is not falling behind, stepping up its military drills near Taiwan, flying fighter jets into the island’s air space and sailing warships around Taiwan.
Tsai said Taiwan has made the greatest effort to maintain peace and stability in the narrow Taiwan Strait that separates the democratic island from China.
“We will continue these efforts, and we are willing to engage in dialogue with China and make more concrete contributions to regional security,” she added, speaking in the garden of the former Japanese governor’s house in Taipei, in front of a socially distanced audience of officials and diplomats.
Tsai said that Taiwan will continue its fight to participate in international organisations, and “bolster ties with the United States, Japan, Europe, and other like-minded countries”.
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