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Taiwan Swears-in New President Amidst Heightened Tensions with China

May 20, 20242:17

Lai Ching-te, of the Democratic Progressive Party of Taiwan, pledged to keep the nation safe while also calling for talks with Beijing upon being sworn into office. The White House sent a delegation to the new president's inauguration, showing support for democracy amidst tense relations with China. Shihoko Goto, Director of the Wilson Center's Indo-Pacific Program, comments on the transition to a new leader. She discusses President Lai's vision for Taiwan and how China has responded, how the international community is supporting Taiwan, and what kinds of challenges lie ahead.

Video Transcript

  • This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

    Lai has stated publicly that he will continue to push forward with the vision that his predecessor, Tsai Ing-wen, has had for Taiwan. And that is, first and foremost, to ensure stability and cross-strait relations. There is pushback on the part of China to say that Lai is pushing forward an agenda veering more towards independence. Lai has pushed back on this, but there is already this disinformation campaign about the dangerous path that Lai may pursue. 

    The good news for Taiwan that it is very much in the public mind of the international community, that as we talk about supporting Ukraine, we talk also about the dangerous situation that Taiwan may be in as well. We've had the United States come to not only the rhetorical defense of Taiwan, but we also have had the United States put up over $8 billion in support of Taiwanese defense. Expectations from the United States for Taiwan to demonstrate its own, not just willingness to defend itself, but also build up its own capabilities, and perhaps most importantly, to ensure that Taiwanese public opinion and public psyche is ready to deal with some of the treacherous potential risks that Taiwan may face. 

    Those are some of the elements that the United States will be looking for from Taiwan. How Taiwan can be resilient not just to pressure from China, but also, as it looks to carve a new roadmap forward in ensuring its technology future and its economic foundation. These are some of the challenges that the Lai administration is going to have to deal with.


Shihoko Goto

Shihoko Goto

Director, Indo-Pacific Program

Shihoko Goto is the director the Indo-Pacific Program at the Wilson Center. Her research focuses on the economics and politics of Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea, as well as US policy in Northeast Asia. A seasoned journalist and analyst, she has reported from Tokyo and Washington for Dow Jones and UPI on the global economy, international trade, and Asian markets. A columnist for The Diplomat magazine and contributing editor to The Globalist, she was previously a donor country relations officer for the World Bank and has been awarded fellowships from the East-West Center and the Knight Foundation, among others.

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Indo-Pacific Program

The Indo-Pacific Program promotes policy debate and intellectual discussions on US interests in the Asia-Pacific as well as political, economic, security, and social issues relating to the world’s most populous and economically dynamic region.   Read more