The US relationship with China faces a test as Taiwan elects a new leader

FILE – Taiwan’s Vice President Lai Ching-te, also known as William Lai, speaks in Taipei, Taiwan, April 12, 2023. On Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, the island of 23 million people will choose a new president to replace Tsai Ing-wen, who has served the limit of two terms. The election has drawn high attention because Beijing is opposed to front-runner Lai Ching-te, the candidate from the governing Democratic Progressive Party, which is known for its pro-independence learnings. This has raised concerns that a Lai win could trigger a military response from the mainland.(AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying, File) WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington’s relationship with Beijing will face its biggest test since the leaders of the two countries met in November, as the United States seeks to keep the Taiwan Straits calm after Taiwanese v oters select a new president this weekend. At stake is the peace and stability of the 110-mile-wide (177-kilometer-wide) strip of water between the Chinese mainland and the self-governed island. Any armed conflict could put Washington head-to-head against Beijing and disrupt the global economy. China fears that a victory in Saturday’s election by the front-runner would be a step toward independence and has suggested to Taiwan’s voters that they could be choosing between peace and war. Washington is prepared to work with both Taipei and Beijing to avoid miscalculations and an escalation in tensions, regardless of which presidential candidate wins, officials and observers say. READ MORE In Taiwan’s election Saturday, who are the 3 candidates trying to become president? A non-traditional candidate resonates with Taiwan’s youth ahead of Saturday’s presidential election A senior White House official said the U.S. will keep channels of communication open with China and will stay in close contact with Taiwan to “reinforce both our support for Taiwan’s democratic processes and also our strong commitment […]

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