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President-elect Lai Ching-te named among world's 100 most influential people

04/18/2024 03:12 PM
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Taipei, April 18 (CNA) Taiwan's President-elect Lai Ching-te (賴清德), who is the incumbent vice president, has been listed by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2024.

Lai, who will take office as president in May, is a coal miner's son who became a Harvard-trained public-health expert, and he prizes problem solving and trust, the citation in the magazine said.

When he is sworn in as president on May 20, however, Lai will face much bigger challenges than safeguarding the health of Taiwan's 23 million people, as he has to ensure "his government's very survival, amid China's ramped-up campaign to reclaim the nascent democracy," Time said in the article published Wednesday.

Taiwan's energetic civil society is flourishing, while its trade is booming, providing more than 50 percent of critical microchips on the global market, but "with tensions rising with Beijing -- its risk profile couldn't be higher," according to the citation written by Jon Huntsman, a former Utah governor and former U.S. ambassador to China and Russia.

As Lai garnered only about 40 percent of the popular vote in Taiwan's multiparty presidential election earlier this year, he is expected to encounter a task like Atlas shouldering the world, as depicted in Greek mythology, the magazine said.

"But less mythological will be his choices and their impact on a world on edge -- to say nothing of the future of democracy in Asia," Time said.

In the Jan. 13 presidential election, Lai of the Democratic Progressive Party Lai won with 40.05 percent of vote, against the opposition Kuomintang's Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜) with 33.49 percent and Taiwan People's Party's Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) with 26.46 percent.

Commenting on Lai's inclusion on the Time list of the world's 100 most influential people, Presidential Office spokesperson Olivia Lin (林聿禪) said Thursday that the magazine's description of him as "Taiwan next President" showed international recognition of Taiwan's democratic achievements.

Lin expressed gratitude to Huntsman for the Lai citation, saying that it showed the former ambassador's long-term support for Taiwan.

Lai will shoulder the responsibility of safeguarding Taiwan's democracy and will work with like-minded countries to maintain peace and prosperity in the region, Lin said.

Lai was listed in the "Leaders" category of Time magazine's most influential list of people in 2024, with the other categories being "Artists," "Icons," "Titans," "Innovators" and "Pioneers."

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and China Premier Li Qiang (李强) were also listed among the most influential leaders in the world in 2024.

In 2020, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was named as one of the world's 100 most influential people, in Time magazine's annual publication of the list.

(By Yang Chao-yen, Lai Yu-chen and Frances Huang)

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