Taiwan’s Vice President, William Lai warned that appeasing China “cannot buy peace”, days after he was elected head of the ruling party in a move that makes him a prime presidential candidate at the next elections, reported news agency AFP.
Lai, 63, is seen as a likely successor to President Tsai Ing-wen, who has been barred from contesting again after her second four-year term that would end in May 2024.
“Appeasement cannot buy peace,” Lai said on Wednesday in his first comments on China since assuming the Democratic Progressive party leadership. He said that Taiwan does not need to declare independence because it was “already a sovereign country”, echoing previous comments by Tsai.
Lai has been more vocal than Tsai on Taiwanese independence and for the same reason is openly loathed by Beijing. He urged the people of Taiwan to unite in the face of “the expansion of China’s authoritarianism” adding that “only by uniting all people and strengthening our defence capabilities can we truly protect our security.”
After Tsai came to power in 2016, China has ramped up military, diplomatic and economic pressure on Taiwan as she rejected China’s stance viewing the island nation as a sovereign nation. The self-governing nation of Taiwan remains under constant fear of an invasion by China, which claims the island democracy as a part of its territory to be seized, even if by force. Beijing has said any Taiwanese move towards a declaration of a formal independence would prompt a military response.
Earlier this month, the Chinese military had said that it had carried out combat drills in the sea and airspace around Taiwan, the second such exercises in less than a month, reported Reuters. Last month, Taiwan Defence Ministry had said that 71 warplanes were used by China for ‘strike drills’ around Taiwan.