Taiwan's new President Lai Ching-te urges China to stop military intimidation in inauguration speech

Taiwan’s new President Lai Ching-te (right) and former President Tsai Ing-wen (left) at Lai’s inauguration  (AP)
Taiwan’s new President Lai Ching-te (right) and former President Tsai Ing-wen (left) at Lai’s inauguration (AP)

Taiwan’s new president Lai Ching-te said he wants peace with China and has urged for it to stop military intimidation in his inauguration speech on Monday.

Lai, who was sworn in as leader of the Democratic Progressive Party of the self-governed island, which Beijing claims as its own territory, maintains that Taiwan is a sovereign nation.

Addressing thousands of people at the Presidential Office Building in Taipei, Lai, 64, said: “I hope that China will face the reality of (Taiwan)’s existence, respect the choices of the people of Taiwan, and in good faith, choose dialogue over confrontation.”

He pledged to “neither yield nor provoke” Beijing and said he sought peace in relations with China. However, he emphasised the island democracy is determined to defend itself “in the face of the many threats and attempts at infiltration from China.”

Beijing dislikes Mr Lai, also known by his English name William, recently calling him a “troublemaker.” It also dislikes the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) due to its pro independence, which has just entered its unprecedented successive third term in power. The DPP has been known to take an assertive, but cautious approach to its relationship with China’s capital.

Beijing’s Taiwan Office said of Lai during the election period: “He would continue to follow the evil path of provoking ‘independence’ and take Taiwan further away from peace and prosperity, and closer to war and decline.”

Since his January election win, Beijing has ramped up military incursions around Taiwan's waters and airspace, with a renewed incursion by the Chinese military aircraft this month.

Lai has vowed to continue his predecessor Tsai Ing-wen‘s efforts to heighten Taiwan’s security measures, with an increase of military equipment imports from partner America.

In his inauguration speech, he also spoke of plans to advance Taiwan’s social safety net, artificial intelligence and bolster green energy.