William Lai names former US envoy to Taiwan as election running mate | Elections News

Lai will make a formal announcement about his choice of top diplomat Hsiao Bi-khin, 52, as his vice presidential candidate.

William Lai, the front-runner for the presidency in Taiwan’s 2024 election, named Hsiao Bi-khim, the self-ruled island’s former envoy to the United States, as his running mate.

Lai, the candidate of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the man leading most opinion polls ahead of the Jan. 13 election, said Hsiao, 52, was the right person for the job.

In a post on his Facebook page, Lai said he would formally introduce Hsiao as his running mate on Monday afternoon.

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said it had accepted his resignation.

“I think Bi-khim is definitely an excellent person when it comes to Taiwan’s diplomatic work today, and he is a rare diplomatic talent in our country,” Lai said.

“I am confident that together with Bi-khim, we will manage in the last 50 days to unite the consensus of the people and unite all forces to win the elections and allow Taiwan to continue growing on a firm path forward.”

Taiwan heads to the polls at a time when Beijing has become increasingly assertive in its claims to the democratic island, which it says is part of China. He has not ruled out the use of force to achieve his objective.

The DPP, which came to power in 2016 under President Tsai Ing-wen, has said it is up to the people of Taiwan to choose their future.

Like Lai, Hsiao is despised by China, which has imposed two sanctions on her, most recently in April, calling her “independent of independence.”

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office last week referred to Lai and Hsiao as a “double act of independence,” adding that the people of Taiwan were “very clear” what their partnership meant for the “situation in the Strait.” Taiwan”. He did not give more details.

China held military exercises around Taiwan in August, after Lai returned from a brief visit to the United States. The Chinese military said its exercises were a “serious warning against Taiwanese separatist forces colluding with external forces to provoke.”

Hsiao became Taipei’s de facto ambassador to the United States in 2020 and is widely regarded as a well-connected diplomat and expert in navigating geopolitical tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the US-Taiwan Business Council, who has known Hsiao since the 1990s, said she was a “formidable politician” and would add much-needed diplomatic and security weight to Lai’s roster.

“The relations of Bi-khim in [Washington] DC will be invaluable to President Lai if elected. She is going to incorporate all those relationships into her government and he does not have them,” he told the Reuters news agency.

The United States is the island’s largest international supporter and arms supplier although, like most countries, it has no formal ties to Taipei.

The DPP’s good handling of its electoral candidates contrasts with the efforts of Taiwan’s two main opposition parties to agree on a joint candidacy.

The largest opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT), which traditionally favors closer ties with Beijing, is locked in a dispute with the smaller Taiwan People’s Party over which of its candidates should run for president and which for vice president. after initially agreeing to work together. .

This Friday is the deadline to register presidential candidates with the electoral commission.

Hsiao was born in Japan to a Taiwanese father and an American mother and initially worked in the office of then-president Chen Shui-bian, also of the DPP, and later as a party lawmaker.

Unusually for Taiwan, she uses the Taiwanese Hokkien spelling of her English name to underline her identity as Taiwanese and not Chinese.

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