China flexes its military muscles almost daily in the Taiwan Strait. Taiwan’s new president is calling on Beijing to end the practice. You can read more about the conflict between China and Taiwan in the ticker.

1:12 p.m.: China has sharply criticized various countries’ congratulations for the new government in Taiwan. “The wrong words and actions of some countries and politicians violate the one-China principle and basic norms of international relations,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in Beijing on Tuesday. China sees this as interference in internal affairs and damage to territorial integrity. The criticism comes a day after Lai Ching-te was sworn in as Taiwan’s new president.

On behalf of the United States, Taiwan’s key ally, Secretary of State Antony Blinken sent congratulations to Lai. According to the statement, he was pleased to further deepen the “unofficial relationship”. This sent a seriously wrong signal to “the separatist independence forces” in Taiwan, said Wang. The Taiwan issue is a core interest of China and the front red line in US-China relations that must not be crossed.

Germany was represented at the celebrations on Monday in Taipei with a multi-member Bundestag delegation led by CDU MP Klaus-Peter Willsch and Riesling wine as a gift for Lai. They want to make it clear to the people of Taiwan that Germany stands by their side and will not leave them alone in their possible struggle for existence, said Willsch on Tuesday in Taipei. “Taiwan is truly a beacon of the rule of law and democracy in Asia, which is not a given in this area,” he said.

12:04 p.m.: One day after the inauguration of Taiwan’s new President Lai Ching-te, thousands of people took to the streets out of concern about a possible erosion of democracy in the East Asian island republic. On Tuesday, people gathered near the Legislative Yuan, Taiwan’s parliament, to demonstrate against the opposition. The background is controversial draft laws that escalated a parliamentary session last Friday and caused deputies from Lai’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and opposition politicians to attack each other – with some injured people ending up in hospital.

A major reason for the chaos is that the conservative and pro-Beijing Kuomintang and the Taiwan People’s Party voted last Monday in committee, where laws are normally debated and examined, to put their views on the drafts directly to a vote in the plenary without discussing the individual clauses, while skipping drafts from the DPP.

Lai won the presidential election on January 13th, but the DPP lost its absolute majority in parliament and now needs approval from the larger opposition bloc for its plans. At the parliamentary session that continued on Tuesday, banners with slogans such as “Hong Kongization in Taiwan” hung on the podium – an allusion to the decline of democracy in Hong Kong after the former British colony was returned to the People’s Republic of China.

“No debates, no democracy,” said demonstrators on posters in front of parliament. “Taiwan is not a normal country. That’s why I’m afraid that Taiwan’s democracy can easily be snatched away, just like in Hong Kong,” said 45-year-old obstetrician Amy Yang to the German Press Agency. The exiled Chinese and democracy activist Wang Dan also drew parallels to Hong Kong in a statement. At the same time, he had confidence in Taiwan’s civil society, said the survivor of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing in 1989 to the dpa.

Tuesday, May 21, 9:40 a.m.: Lai Ching-te has been sworn in as the new president in Taiwan. The liberal business newspaper “Hospodarske noviny” from the Czech Republic wrote on Tuesday:

“Taiwan’s situation is comparable to that of West Berlin during the Cold War. Lai Ching-te takes office as president at a time when there is open discussion of a possible war between China and the United States over Taiwan. That would be something that would significantly change the course of global politics and economics. Because two-thirds of world trade passes through the region’s waterways – and Taiwan itself is an irreplaceable producer of the most advanced semiconductors.

Although we in Europe focus on Russian aggression against Ukraine, East Asia remains crucial to global stability. Taiwan’s new president will play an important role in how the situation around the island evolves.”

Monday, May 20th, 7:49 a.m.: Taiwan’s new President Lai Ching-te called on China to end intimidation attempts against the island republic in his inaugural speech. “I would also like to call on China to stop its political and military intimidation against Taiwan,” the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) politician, sworn in on Monday, told thousands of supporters in Taipei. China should share the responsibility with Taiwan to maintain peace and stability in the strait between the two countries (Taiwan Strait) and the surrounding region.

The future of relations in the Taiwan Strait between the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China, will have a decisive influence on the world. His government will neither give in nor provoke and will maintain the status quo, said the 64-year-old politician. This means that Taiwan should remain an independent country.

Sunday, May 19th, 5:31 p.m.: Taiwan’s elected President Lai Ching-te will be inaugurated with his government in the capital Taipei this Monday. The ceremony for the current vice president is scheduled for the morning (local time). Lai succeeds his party colleague Tsai Ing-wen, who is no longer allowed to run after two terms in office. On January 13th, the 64-year-old doctor clearly won the presidential election for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). However, in the parallel parliamentary elections, the center-left party lost its absolute majority and is now dependent on alliances.

The inauguration, including Lai’s speech, is likely to be closely watched, especially by its powerful neighbor China. Beijing sees the DPP and its president as separatist because the party supports Taiwanese independence. The ruling Chinese Communist Party under state and party leader Xi Jinping counts Taiwan as part of its territory and wants to unite it with the mainland – if necessary with military means. Lai has so far not promised an official proclamation of Taiwan’s independence, but has advocated maintaining the status quo – i.e. Taiwan, with its more than 23 million inhabitants, should remain an independent country.

51 delegations from various countries are expected at the inauguration, including a group from the German Bundestag. As an important ally of Taiwan, the USA is also sending a cross-party group to Taipei, as has been the case at previous inaugurations.

6:11 p.m.: The United States, Taiwan’s most important defense partner, is sending a bipartisan delegation to the inauguration of President Lai Ching-te, who was elected in January. The group, which includes former US government officials, will arrive in Taipei this weekend, a senior US government official in Washington said in advance.

The previous Vice President Lai from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) will be inaugurated next Monday (May 20th). The visit is likely to anger China, as previous occasions have shown. Beijing sees the democratically governed island as part of the People’s Republic and is threatening to conquer it by force.

China sees the island as a breakaway province, even though the ruling Communist Party in Beijing has never ruled Taiwan. The USA repeatedly supplies weapons to the island republic, which has been governed democratically for decades and has more than 23 million inhabitants. China wants to unite Taiwan with the mainland and regularly demonstrates its military power in the strait between the two countries (Taiwan Strait).

On January 13, center-left candidate Lai won a clear victory in the presidential election with around 40 percent of the vote. The DPP lost its majority in parliament and is now dependent on cooperation.

Delegations from the USA have also traveled to previous inaugurations, said the US government representative. US President Joe Biden has already sent three delegations of former government employees to Taiwan during his term in office, most recently immediately after the election in January this year.

The US government representative emphasized that Washington did not want to change the status quo. However, independence for Taiwan is not supported. In doing so, she reiterated the government’s position, which supports dialogue between Taipei and Beijing and expects differences to be resolved peacefully and without coercion. If Taiwan officially declares independence, that would be a reason for Beijing to escalate the situation in the Taiwan Strait.

The Taiwan question is a sensitive one for Washington, as an escalation in the region would draw the US into a conflict through its promise to help Taipei in the event of a defence. From China’s perspective, a “red line” would then be crossed.

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