Taiwan’s top U.S. diplomat registers for election; opposition in disarray | Political news

Former diplomat Hsiao Bi-khim formalizes her candidacy for vice president as the November 24 deadline for nominations approaches.

Taiwan’s outspoken former envoy to the United States, Hsiao Bi-khim, has officially registered her candidacy for vice president and William Lai’s running mate in the island’s upcoming 2024 elections.

Hsiao, 52, a former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker, served as Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the United States from 2020 until her resignation this week.

His tenure in Washington, D.C. coincided with renewed U.S. interest in Taiwan thanks to its early battle against COVID-19 and a continued standoff with Beijing at a time when U.S.-Taiwan relations China was deteriorating.

Hsiao, a self-described “cat warrior” who often poses with her felines, is also known for her active presence on social media platforms like X, where she has amassed 133,000 followers promoting the DPP’s pro-Taiwan stance.

“Back to Taiwan!” Honored to join @ChingteLai on the ticket as Vice President for 2024. A difficult road ahead as I take on a heavier burden. Taiwan’s democracy deserves all our efforts,” she said on Tuesday.

Like Lai, the current vice president, Hsiao is despised by Beijing for her political stance on Taiwan and her relations with China. In April, Beijing formally banned him from visiting China, Hong Kong and Macau after he accompanied President Tsai Ing-wen on her unofficial trip to the United States.

Beijing claims Taipei as its own territory and does not rule out the use of force to achieve its objective. The DPP says only the Taiwanese people can decide the future of their island.

Although she draws the ire of Beijing, Hsiao is popular with young voters and is seen as a breath of fresh air compared to some of her counterparts. Reflecting the rise of Taiwanese identity across the island and the diaspora, Hsiao uses the Taiwanese pronunciation of his name instead of Mandarin, the dominant language in China.

The media boost given to Lai’s presidential campaign comes as the opposition is apparently in disarray, days before the November 24 registration deadline.

Last week, Kuomintang (KMT) candidate Hou You-ih and Taiwan People’s Party independent candidate Ko Wen-je appeared poised to disrupt the election by working together and posing the most formidable challenge yet to Lai , who was ahead of both candidates in the polls.

Days later, the project was abandoned after the two parties failed to agree on the presidential candidate following a disastrous internal polling attempt. Both sides were forced to renege on a deal negotiated by former President Ma Ying-jeou.

Ko, the former mayor of Taipei, is popular with Taiwanese voters who are tired of the island’s two-party dominated political system or who want something new after eight years of the DPP.

Hou, a former police officer and mayor, offers stability to the KMT, a party known for its better working relationship with Beijing, and remains popular with Taiwanese businessmen and families who fled China in the 1940s.

Neither have yet indicated their choice of running mate.

In fourth place is independent Terry Gou, the billionaire founder of iPhone maker Foxconn, whose support remained in the single digits.

The election is scheduled for January.

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