Former diplomat Hsiao Bi-khim formalizes her candidacy for vice president as the Nov. 24 deadline for candidate submissions approaches.
Taiwan’s former outspoken envoy to the United States, Hsiao Bi-khim, has formally registered her candidacy for vice president and William Lai’s running mate in the island’s upcoming 2024 elections.
Hsiao, 52, a former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker, served as Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the United States from 2020 until her resignation this week.
His tenure in Washington, DC coincided with renewed US interest in Taiwan thanks to its initial battle with COVID-19 and an ongoing standoff with Beijing at a time when US-China relations were deteriorating.
Hsiao, a self-described “warrior cat” who often poses with her felines, is also known for her active presence on social media platforms such as X, where she has amassed 133,000 followers promoting the DPP’s pro-Taiwan stance.
“Back in Taiwan! It’s an honor to join @ChingteLai on the ticket as vice president for 2024. A difficult road ahead is expected as I take on a heavier load. “Taiwan’s democracy deserves our best efforts,” he posted on Tuesday.
Like Lai, the current vice president, Hsiao is despised by Beijing for her political stance on Taiwan and its relationship with China. In April, Beijing formally banned her from visiting China, Hong Kong and Macau after she accompanied President Tsai Ing-wen on her unofficial trip to the United States.
Beijing claims Taipei as its own territory and has not ruled out using force to achieve its goal. The DPP says that only the people of Taiwan can decide the future of their island.
Despite earning the ire of Beijing, Hsiao is popular among younger voters and is seen as a breath of fresh air compared to some of her counterparts. Reflecting the rise of Taiwanese identity on the island and in the diaspora, Hsiao uses the Taiwanese pronunciation of her name instead of Mandarin, the dominant language in China.
The media boost to Lai’s presidential campaign comes at a time when the opposition is apparently disorganized, just days before the Nov. 24 registration deadline.
Last week, Kuomintang (KMT) candidate Hou You-ih and independent Taiwan People’s Party candidate Ko Wen-je appeared set to disrupt the election by working together and posing the most formidable challenge yet to Lai, who has been ahead of both candidates in the polls.
Hsiao as Lai’s vice president is a natural choice for the DPP:
1. After Tsai, he has done more internationally for Taiwan’s hard and soft power than any other politician (possibly more than Lai)
2. She trusts DC (possibly more than Lai)
3. Pan-Green voters largely support her
— Lev Nachman (@lnachman32) November 20, 2023
Within days, the plan was abandoned after the two parties could not agree on who would run for president following a disastrous attempt at an internal poll. Both sides were forced to backtrack on a deal brokered by former President Ma Ying-jeou.
Ko, a former mayor of Taipei, is popular among Taiwanese voters who are tired of the island’s two-party dominated political system or want something new after eight years of DPP.
Hou, a former police officer and mayor, offers stability to the KMT, a party known for its better working relations with Beijing, and remains popular among Taiwanese businessmen and families who fled China in the 1940s.
Neither of them has yet indicated their choice of running mate.
In a distant fourth place is independent Terry Gou, the billionaire founder of iPhone maker Foxconn, whose support has remained in single digits.
Elections are scheduled for January.