William Lai makes the promise during the final leg of a trip that China has condemned.
TAIPEI: Taiwan’s vice-president William Lai has promised during a visit to San Francisco to take peace as his “lighthouse” and democracy as his guide, on the final leg of a trip that China has condemned.
Lai is stopping briefly in the US city on his way back to Taipei after visiting Paraguay, having stopped in New York on his way there.
China, which claims Taiwan as its territory, has denounced the transit stops in the US and called Lai a “troublemaker”.
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In a speech to supporters entitled “Building an innovative and prosperous country”, Lai touted chipmaker Taiwan’s key role in the global technology supply chain and said he would turn Taiwan into Asia’s Silicon Valley.
“Here I make my promise to everyone: going forward, I will do all I can to lead Taiwan continuously forward with peace as the lighthouse and democracy as the compass,” Lai said in comments carried live on Taiwanese television on Thursday.
“We have one shared goal, which is to make Taiwan the MVP of the democratic world,” he said, referring to the US sporting term “most valuable player”.
“During good times and bad times, Taiwan has been closely standing together with democratic societies in the past decades. Taiwan has never been alone,” Lai said, adding that Taiwan-U.S. ties are “unprecedentedly good”.
The speech ended with the crowd chanting “go Taiwan” and “get elected”, a reference to Taiwan’s January election in which Lai is the frontrunner.
The banquet with supporters was attended by Laura Rosenberger, chair of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), a US government-run non-profit that handles unofficial relations.
Speaking before him, Rosenberger said the Biden administration was committed to expanding Taiwan’s engagement with like-minded allies and partners.
“Taiwan is a crucial partner in US efforts to maintain global peace and stability, including in the Taiwan Strait,” Rosenberger said.
“Preserving this peace and stability is a core tenant of the US’ longstanding cross-strait policy and our commitment to help Taiwan’s self-defence capacity is rock solid.”
The US has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.