Taiwan's new president asks China to stop threats

The newly inaugurated President of Taiwan, William Lai

The newly inaugurated president of Taiwan, William Lai, has called on China to stop threatening the island and accept the existence of its democracy, writes the BBC.

He urged Beijing to replace confrontation with dialogue shortly after he was sworn in on Monday.

He also said Taiwan would never back down in the face of intimidation by China, which has long claimed the island as its own.

Military incursions by China around the island's waters and airspace have become a routine affair in recent years, sparking fears of conflict. In his speech, Lai called this "the biggest strategic challenge for global peace and stability".

But the 64-year-old also stuck closely to the formula used by his predecessor, Tsai Ing-wen, whose legacy will be defined by her careful but steady handling of Beijing.

Lai, a doctor-turned-politician, won a three-way presidential race in January, securing an unprecedented third term for his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). He had served as Tsai's vice president since 2020, and before that as her prime minister. In his younger days, he was known as a more radical politician who openly called for Taiwan's independence, which has not escaped Beijing's notice.

The Chinese government has yet to issue a statement on Lai's inauguration.