2024-0118: Lai Ching-te Elected as Taiwan’s New President; Nauru Cuts Diplomatic Ties with Taiwan; U.S. House Passes Two Pro-Taiwan Bills

Lai Ching-te Elected as Taiwan’s New President, Leading DPP to Historic Third Term

Taiwan’s Vice President Lai Ching-te (or William Lai) won the presidential election on January 13, delivering the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) a record third term in office.

It is the first time since direct presidential elections began in Taiwan in 1996 that a party has won the presidency in more than two consecutive elections.

DPP presidential candidate Lai Ching-te won the election with 5,586,019 votes, or 40.05 percent of the total.

Lai’s main rival, Hou You-yi of the Chinese Nationalist Party or Kuomintang (KMT), received 4,671,021 votes, or 33.49 percent of the total. Ko Wen-je of the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) came in third with 3,690,466 votes, or 26.46 percent of the total.

Voter turnout was 71.86 percent for the presidential election.

In his victory speech, Lai thanked the people of Taiwan for their support, noting that they had written “a new chapter in our democracy.” “We are telling the international community that between democracy and authoritarianism, we will stand on the side of democracy.”

Lai reiterated that safeguarding peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait would be an important mission in his presidency, adding that he would work to maintain the “status quo,” while engaging in exchanges and dialogues with China based on an equal footing.

Lai — the son of a coal miner who was killed in an accident in the pit when Lai was two years old — was trained as a doctor at the National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan, and later in public health at the Harvard School of Public Health in the United States.

Several countries, including Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, the U.S., Japan, the U.K., and European Union (EU) countries, have congratulated Taiwan on its democratic achievement after the presidential and legislative elections on January 13.

“The United States congratulates Dr. Lai Ching-te on his victory in Taiwan’s presidential election,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement shared by the State Department.

“We also congratulate the Taiwan people for once again demonstrating the strength of their robust democratic system and electoral process,” Blinken added, while reaffirming the U.S.’ commitment to maintaining cross-Taiwan Strait peace and stability.

Taiwan’s current president, Tsai Ing-wen, is constitutionally barred from running again this year after two terms in office.

The new president, Lai Ching-te, and vice president, Hsiao Bi-khim, will be sworn in on May 20.

[1] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2024/01/14/2003812068
[2] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202401130013
[3] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2024/01/15/2003812105

AIT Chair Voices “Disappointment” at Nauru’s Distortion of UNGA Res. 2758 and Its Decision to Cut Diplomatic Ties with Taiwan

The United States was disappointed by Nauru’s decision to cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan on January 15 and that the 1971 United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 2758 was “distorted” to justify Nauru’s move, visiting American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chair Laura Rosenberger said on January 16.

“While the government of Nauru’s action on January 15 to sever its diplomatic relationship with Taiwan is a sovereign decision, it is nonetheless a disappointing one,” AIT Chair Rosenberger said at a news conference in Taipei.

She also expressed disappointment over Nauru’s statement that the decision to cut ties with Taiwan was consistent with the “One-China Principle . . . in line with UN Resolution 2758.”

According to Rosenberger, UNGA Res. 2758 “did not make a determination on the status of Taiwan; does not preclude countries from having diplomatic relationships with Taiwan; and does not preclude Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the U.N. system.”

“It is disappointing to see distorted narratives about UN resolution 2758 being used as a tool to pressure Taiwan, limit its voice on the international stage, and influence its diplomatic relationships,” she said.

Nauru’s citing of the UN Resolution 2758 was the first time in recent years that a former diplomatic ally of Taiwan has used it as a justification for switching diplomatic recognition, a diplomatic source said on January 15.

The UNGA Res. 2758 was adopted in 1971 to solve the issue of China’s representation in the U.N. system. The resolution recognizes the representatives of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) government as “the only legitimate representatives of China” to the UN.

Taiwan and U.S. governments have repeatedly argued, however, that UNGA Res. 2758 does not mention Taiwan, does not state that “Taiwan is part of the PRC,” and does not authorize the PRC government to represent Taiwan in the U.N. system.

Nauru’s severing ties with Taiwan came two days after Taiwan’s Vice President Lai Ching-te won the presidential election, and left Taiwan with only 12 diplomatic allies.

It was also the 10th diplomatic ally Taiwan has lost to the PRC since President Tsai Ing-wen took office in May 2016.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202401160005
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2024/01/17/2003812205

U.S. House Passes Two Pro-Taiwan Bills

On January 12, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Taiwan Non-Discrimination Act of 2023” (H.R.540) and the “PROTECT Taiwan Act” or the “Pressure Regulatory Organizations To End Chinese Threats to Taiwan Act” (H.R.803), aimed at countering China’s efforts to exclude Taiwan from participating in international financial institutions.

The House Financial Services Committee said in a statement that the “Taiwan Non-Discrimination Act,” sponsored by U.S. Rep. Young Kim (R-CA), will require the U.S. to advocate for Taiwan’s membership at the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The bill says that Taiwan is the world’s 21st-largest economy and the U.S.’ 10th-largest goods trading partner, and that although Taiwan is not an IMF member, it is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Asian Development Bank, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

“The experience of Taiwan in developing a vibrant and advanced economy under democratic governance and the rule of law should inform the work of the international financial institutions, including through increased participation by Taiwan in the institutions,” the bill says.

In the wake of the House passing the bill to support Taiwan’s rightful place in the IMF, Rep. Kim wrote on X: “We cannot allow the Chinese Communist Party to keep Taiwan out of international organizations.” “I’ll always be a voice for our freedom-loving partners across the globe,” she added.

Meanwhile, the “PROTECT Taiwan Act,” sponsored by U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK), will help isolate the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from the international financial system by directing the U.S. Federal Reserve, the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to exclude Chinese representatives from the proceedings of international financial groups and organizations if China were to invade Taiwan.

The international financial organizations listed in the bill included the Group of Twenty (G20), the Bank for International Settlements, the Financial Stability Board, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, the International Association of Insurance Supervisors, and the International Organization of Securities Commissions.

These two bills are to proceed to the U.S. Senate and, if passed there, would be sent to the president to be signed into law.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202401130005
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2024/01/14/2003812080