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Maintaining cross-strait status quo most important task: Lai

03/13/2024 08:46 PM
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Vice President Lai Ching-te (right) meets Managing Director of the Indo-Pacific Program at the German Marshall Fund Bonnie Glaser at the Presidential Office in Taipei Wednesday. CNA photo March 13, 2024
Vice President Lai Ching-te (right) meets Managing Director of the Indo-Pacific Program at the German Marshall Fund Bonnie Glaser at the Presidential Office in Taipei Wednesday. CNA photo March 13, 2024

Taipei, March 13 (CNA) Vice president and president-elect Lai Ching-te (賴清德) said Wednesday during a meeting with a visiting delegation of scholars from Washington DC that his most important political task was to maintain the status quo in the Taiwan Strait.

Lai, who is set to take office on May 20, said at the event held at the Presidential Office that whether it be G7 leaders, the U.S. president, or other international leaders, all of them recognize that maintaining peace and stability in the Strait is essential to maintaining global security and prosperity.

"Our responsibility is to do our utmost to build peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific," he said, adding that he hopes the world will continue to pay attention to the strait because peace and stability in the region can only be maintained through Taiwan cooperating with the international community.

He went on to say that because 2024 is a blockbuster election year, the eyes of the world were on Taiwan's presidential and legislative elections two months ago as they waited to see what decisions the Taiwanese people would make under pressure from China.

Lai said that Taiwan faces a direct threat from China. He added that despite China interfering in the elections, Taiwanese people still cast their ballots in a way that shows they wish to continue collaborating with other democratic countries.

Lai noted that due to the unstable political and economic situation in China and the deteriorating business environment, many Taiwanese businesses have left China and relocated to the United States, Japan, Europe, and the Indo-Pacific region.

Taiwanese businesses will also be able to develop and expand if the island nation integrates more with the regional economy, Lai said.

Meanwhile, Lai said he was happy get the chance to meet with the delegation again, and expressed his gratitude for their long-term support, as well as the attention the scholars are paying to peace and stability in the strait.

The delegation included Bonnie Glaser, the Managing Director of the Indo-Pacific Program at the German Marshall Fund, the Managing Director of Eurasia Group's China practice John Rick Waters, Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute Zack Cooper, and the Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Jude Blanchette.

Also on Wednesday, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) met with the Center for American Progress Chair Thomas A. Daschle at the head of a delegation in the Presidential Office.

Tsai noted that Taiwan and the U.S. not only share values of democracy, freedom, and human rights but are also important trade partners.

Tsai said that this year marks the 45th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act, which is an important foundation for both sides and a symbol of the stable friendship between Taiwan and the U.S.

The Indo-Pacific region is facing increasing authoritarian threats and Taiwan, on the frontline, has faced significant challenges which have been compounded by those arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and extreme weather, Tsai said.

She said that democratic countries can only overcome these challenges through collaboration.

She expressed the hope that the double taxation on American and Taiwanese businesses and individuals would be scrapped as soon as possible, particularly given that the two countries have signed the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade.

(By Wen Kuei-hsiang and Evelyn Yang)

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