Tsai says China must 'coexist' with a democratic Taiwan

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However, the city has seen the encroaching influence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in local politics and education.

Experts, however, doubt there will be a major impact for Taiwan - and fear the robust U.S. backing could even backfire if Beijing comes to view its complex relationship with the self-governing island through the lens of growing tensions with Washington. Taiwan rejected the condition.

The clash over Taiwan's participation at the World Health Assembly comes as part of a larger U.S.

Voters handed Tsai a second term with a landslide win in January, a vocal rebuke of Beijing's ongoing campaign to isolate the island.

Tsai noted that media outlets around the world have reported about the successful measures Taiwan has taken against the coronavirus outbreak.

In his address to the annual meeting of WHO's member countries, director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned there is still "a long road to travel" before the pandemic is contained, noting that the majority of the world's population remains susceptible to the virus.

Taiwanese epidemiologist Ho Mei-hsiang said the government shouldn't waste time aiming for observer status any more.

Only 15 countries, mainly small Pacific, Central American and African nations, have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but Taipei enjoys strong global support from informal allies including the US, UK and Japan.

"At the same time, the global community may grow more willing to engage Taiwan along similar lines of the unofficial US-Taiwan relationship as a result of Taipei's superb performance during the pandemic, despite poor treatment from Beijing", he said. China severed official communications with Taiwan in 2016 after Tsai's first election and, despite Tsai's numerous offers to restart dialogue, it has shown no signs of being willing to do so.

Tsai delivers her inaugural address at the Taipei Guest House in Taipei Taiwan on Wednesday
Tsai delivers her inaugural address at the Taipei Guest House in Taipei Taiwan on Wednesday

"On Pompeo's congratulation to Tsai Ing-wen on her inauguration, we express strong indignation and condemnation".

Former cabinet spokesperson Kolas Yotaka was appointed to be spokesperson for the presidential office, becoming the first indigenous Taiwanese official to hold either position.

"If the DPP and KMT are unwilling to tell the world that China and Taiwan are different, then we at least can be the ones to say it", he added.

Ma also criticised the interference of "external forces", a reference to the United States which diplomatically recognises Beijing but remains a military ally of Taiwan.

"President Tsai has drawn clear lines and established a few non-negotiables, while making sufficient rhetorical concessions that, should it want to, the leadership in Beijing could meet her half-way", J. Michael Cole, a Taipei-based fellow with the University of Nottingham's Taiwan Studies Programme, told AFP.

The editorial accused Washington and the Tsai administration as being "narcissistic", while boasting that Beijing could "mobilize more global resources" than the two combined. "The people of Taiwan are united in their aversion [China] and will not give up their desire to make a positive contribution to world affairs".

Joe Biden, the Democrat presidential candidate, and Mike Pompeo, the U.S. secretary of state, congratulated President Tsai on Twitter.

The Taiwan Statebuilding Party is drafting a "China relations act", which would seek to redefine relations between the two nations and the authorities that would be responsible for cross-strait affairs, Chen Po-wei said.

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