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May 24, 2024
Focus This Week
A community space to discuss the China-U.S. relationship and beyond.

Dear Focus Reader,

This week, across the strait from China's eastern coast, William Lai Ching-te was officially sworn in as Taiwan's new president, after winning the election in January. The inauguration ceremony, marked by a 21-gun salute and attended by dignitaries from around the world, set the stage for Lai's assertive yet conciliatory address. Lai called on Beijing to abandon its aggressive stance and engage in dialogue, emphasizing the self-governed island's commitment to its democratic principles and the status quo.

As China continues to assert its claim over Taiwan, Beijing's response was swift and unequivocal. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin reiterated that "Taiwan independence is a dead end," underscoring Beijing's stance that any push for independence is destined to fail. Additionally, just days after Lai's inauguration, Beijing kicked off its largest military drills surrounding Taiwan in more than a year, which are designed to test its ability to "seize power" over the island, according to the People's Liberation Army.

Lai's presidency promises a continuation of Tsai Ing-wen's cautious approach, balancing a firm defense posture with a call for dialogue. His administration is expected to bolster Taiwan's defenses through advanced military imports and regional partnerships, particularly with the U.S. and Japan, balancing the delicate line deterrence and diplomacy in the cross-strait dynamic.

Taiwan also remains a contentious topic between China and the U.S., and Beijing has frequently accused Washington of undermining the "One-China Principle," an agreement that recognizes the PRC as the sole legal government of China, while allowing for informal relations with the island. But despite tensions with Beijing, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken extended congratulations to Lai, emphasizing Washington's desire to maintain peace and stability in the region. In the meantime, China's Foreign Ministry urged the U.S. not to schedule any congressional visits to Taiwan, stating that any consequences that arise because of this "must be borne by the U.S."

For more on international relations, stay up to date on our latest Focus content, including topics on Putin's China trip, Xi's European tour, and China-U.S. relations.

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Professorial Chairholder in Geopolitics, Polytechnic University of the Philippines

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About Focus This Week

Prepared by China-US Focus editorial teams in Hong Kong and New York, this weekly newsletter offers you snap shots of latest trends and developments emerging from China and the U.S. every week. It is a community space to exchange thoughts and ideas about the China-U.S. relationship and beyond.

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