Taiwan, who is the new president William Lai: the “troublemaker” doctor of the status quo

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By John

William Lai Ching-teaccused by Beijing of being an “instigator of war” and a “troublemaker” for his autonomist positionsis one staunch defender of Taiwan’s sovereignty, to protect which he said he wanted to work to maintain the status quo in relations with China. Lai, a doctor with a passion for politics, will turn 65 in October: he is the son of a miner and as a child he experienced the great pain of losing his father, who died in the 1960s in the collapse of a tunnel in a coal mine when he was just two years old. Those were hard times and still far from the technological and microchip boom and the alternative to the work available on the island was emigration. He was raised by his mother in a working-class suburb of Taipei along with five other siblings. “Because his mother was forced to raise six children while living in a small house near the mines, Lai has an excellent relationship with her and knows the value of hard work,” said Luo Wen-jia, a former minister and former general secretary of the Democratic Progressive Party. «Even among friends in private, his eyes turn red when he talks about his mother. His inclination to persevere and not give up was obviously influenced by the environment in which he grew up,” Luo added. Lai, precisely with stubborn determination, became a doctor and continued at Harvard, in the United States. But he did not hesitate for a single moment, when Taiwan abolished martial law in the late 1980s and began political reforms, to abandon medical practice to devote himself to politics, first as a parliamentarian and then as mayor of the southern city of Tainan. He was prime minister during the presidency of Tsai Ing-wen between 2017 and 2019. Known in the past for his explicit support for Taiwanese independence – to be achieved with the formal declaration of an independent and sovereign Taiwanese state breaking with the political system Chinese – Lai has then drastically moderated his posture in recent years, pledging to give priority to the status quo and to follow the approach of President Tsai, of whom he is deputy.

KMT nationalists, who are traditionally closer to Beijing, have attacked him with the nickname “golden son of Taiwan independence”, warning of the risks of war with China if he wins the presidency of the island. Criticisms that slipped away: In a recent briefing to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Taiwan, Lai pledged that he will lead “a new era of values-based diplomacy,” in an articulation that explicitly frames democratic pillars as guiding principles of his policy abroad, at a time when China is increasing its pressure on Taipei’s few remaining allies to cut ties. Because “Taiwan has the responsibility to share its experience of democratization with the world and with the Indo-Pacific”. Sufficient intentions to irritate Beijing. Then, to better prepare for the mission it chose Hsiao Bi-khim, the former de facto ambassador to the US and author of the consolidation of relations with the United States: a ‘cat warrior’ of Taiwanese diplomacy in Washington, born in Japan and raised in America. The worst possible profile for the communist leadership.