The leader of Taiwan’s presidential race, Lai Ching-te, this Monday chose a former US ambassador – a prominent diplomat known in Washington but regarded as a separatist by China – as his running mate for the January election.
Lai, the current vice president and candidate of the Democratic Progressive Party, is leading the polls for the election, which will take place under pressure from China to accept its sovereignty over the island.
Running mate Hsiao Bi-khim, 52, who has been Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the US since 2020, has many contacts in Washington and was expected to be Lai’s running mate.
Hsiao said he shares values with Lai, including defending freedom and democracy in Taiwan.
“I believe we have a lot of common beliefs. We both want to take on this responsibility for Taiwan,” he told reporters with the Lai Campaign Center Group in Taipei.
The Ministry of External Affairs accepted the resignation of his ambassador to the US on Monday. Rupert Hammond-Chambers, chairman of the US-Taiwan Business Council and who has known the diplomat since the 1990s, said he is a “strong politician” and would add a lot of diplomatic and security knowledge to Lai’s candidacy.
“Bi-Kim’s relationships in Washington, if elected, will be valuable to President Lai. He will bring all these relationships to his government, something he lacked,” he said.
Like most countries, the United States does not have formal relations with Taiwan, but is the island’s most important international supporter and arms supplier.
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