Tibetan leadership congratulates Taiwan’s president-elect Lai

By Tsering Choephel

DHARAMSALA, 16 Jan: His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Sunday offered his congratulations to Mr Lai Ching-te, the Taiwanese President-Elect for his victory and wished him “success in meeting the challenges that lie ahead.” 

Taiwan’s highly anticipated 2024 general election ended on Saturday with the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) candidate Lai Ching-te winning the unprecedented third consecutive victory for the party. He is to replace the two-time president Tsai In-wen in May.

The Dalai Lama in his missive noted that “observing the exercise of democracy, as has just taken place in Taiwan, is a source of encouragement for all of us who aspire to live in freedom and dignity.”

Rated as one of the freest countries in the world by the 2023 Human Freedom Index and its robust practices of liberal democratic system considered exemplary, Taiwan however faces surmounting pressure and threats from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) ruled China. China’s President Xi Jinping has declared multiple times that Taiwan’s unification with mainland China is inevitable, with the use of ‘force’ not ruled out to achieve the goal.

Beijing claims Taiwan as a part of it while the democratically self-ruled island sees itself as distinct from mainland China. Surveys, as reported in several outlets, show that the vast majority of Taiwanese oppose CCP’s reunification threat and support the current status of de-facto independent Taiwan. 

The Dalai Lama, as a strong believer and proponent of peace and dialogue for world peace said “Good relations between Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China are of utmost importance. It is my longstanding conviction that engaging in dialogue is the best way to resolve difficult issues, whether on a local, national or international level.”

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Sikyong(President) Penpa Tsering, the political head of the exiled Tibetans extended his congratulations to Lai. “As a democracy in exile, Tibetans profoundly admire the spirit of self-determination exemplified by the people of Taiwan.” 

Deputy Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (TPiE), Dolma Tsering Teykhang also congratulated the President-elect Lai.  Declaring CTA and the TPiE as legitimate representatives and the voices of Tibet, she said “We have worked closely with the Taiwan Democratic Foundation to learn from each other on our shared interest and we hope to further strengthen our ties through enhancing people-to-people connections in future.”

The world leaders, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, UK’s foreign secretary David Cameroon and others welcomed the victory of Taiwanese president-elect William Lai, who Beijing has labelled as a ‘dangerous separatist’. As usual, Beijing hit back, calling it “gross interference in China’s internal affairs.”

To Beijing’s delight, Naura – a tiny island country reportedly announced on Monday that it was severing ties with Taiwan and establishing them with Beijing. That leaves Taiwan with just 12 nations around the world that formally recognise it. 

Yet, the significance of Taiwan as a democratic sovereign country has gained momentum in recent years, with escalating threats from authoritarian China and mounting support from the US-led free world.

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