In a little over three months from now, William Lai will formally take over as president of Taiwan from incumbent President Tsai ing-Wen. It will be a heady moment for the man who once declared that Taiwan does not need to declare independence as it is already independent, of mainland China!
That could be a red rag to Beijing which is infuriated over Lai’s victory, it means Taiwan will spend more on defence, and also expect Lai to boost the indigenous submarine-building programme, and build closer ties with the US Europe, and Japan.
Who is Lai Qing-Te?
William Lai was vice president to Tsai ing-Wen until now. He is a doctor turned politician while his running mate Hsiao Bi-khim was Taiwan’s representative to the US until recently. Beijing dislikes them intensely, convinced that both will seek to push the envelope on undermining China’s claim over Taiwan.
Lai has said he will keep up the cross-strait dialogue with China but there has been none for quite some years. China is expected to step up its intimidatory activities in the waters around Taiwan, sending naval ships and aircraft, to what effect is unclear as of now
Lai is expected to focus on domestic issues, the housing crisis for instance, and the fact that living standards have been stagnant for some time. He also knows that his party the DPP faces a challenge from the Taiwan People’s Party, which with its fresh faces and aggressive agenda of reform, may win support from the island’s young people. He has reached out to the TPP, seeking to build a political consensus on the issues before the country and how to deal with them. He has a huge challenge ahead of him.