Former premier William Lai (賴清德) on Tuesday visited San Francisco — his first stop in the US as part of campaign efforts for President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) re-election bid.
Speaking at a news conference in San Francisco, Lai said that Tsai would do a much better job than Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential candidate, “leading Taiwan and strengthening Taiwan.”
Lai called on Taiwanese in the US to vote for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the Jan. 11 elections, to support Tsai and to help the party gain a legislative majority “for the strengthening of Taiwan, the unity of Taiwanese and the globalization of Taiwan.”
The former premier was warmly received by supporters, many of whom chanted slogans.
Lai played a video recorded by Tsai, before thanking DPP supporters and discussing his US travel plans.
His visit is in support of democracy and should not be taken to indicate that he plans to act as Tsai’s running mate, Lai told the audience.
Taiwanese must band together and resist the Chinese Communist Party to protect the nation’s sovereignty and safeguard its democracy, while maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, he said.
“Taiwan is a young democracy and a brave democracy. The international community strongly praises Taiwan for the story of its successful democratization,” he said.
As someone who abandoned a career in medicine to enter politics, he understands the contributions and sacrifices many people have made for Taiwan’s democracy, and because it was fought so hard for it must be cherished, he said.
In the past, diverging perspectives on national identity made it impossible for Taiwanese to band together, but now that Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has grown so vocal in his threats toward the nation, Taiwanese must overcome their differences to prevent their nation being absorbed by China, he said.
Through the democratic process he hopes that Taiwanese band together and eliminate the “distracting thought of ‘one China,’” Lai said.
Taiwan is important strategically, and the world is waiting to see if the nation’s next leader can protect its sovereignty and independence, he said.
Tsai is assuming a “heavy burden” for the nation, Lai said, adding that he hopes everyone can come together to support Tsai and the DPP’s legislator and legislator-at-large candidates.
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