TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — The front-runner in Taiwan’s presidential race has chosen the longtime de facto ambassador to the United States as his running mate.
Vice President William Lai announced Monday on its Facebook page the nomination of Hsiao Bi-ki — born in Japan to a Taiwanese father and an American mother — as its vice-presidential candidate for the January elections. His choice would likely bolster support among supporters of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, which has long defied Beijing’s demands to return the island to authoritarian Communist Party rule.
Lai and Hsiao face each other a divided opposition, led by the Nationalist Party, also known as the Kuomintang or KMT, which sought to attract independent candidates to its list. Polls show Lai in the lead, but China appears to be seeking to influence business groups and the media.
Lai currently serves as vice president to President Tsai Ing-wen, who cannot seek a third four-year term. In her Facebook post, Tsai said Hsiao played a crucial role in cooperation with the United States, Taiwan’s main ally.
“This team, after President Tsai’s eight years in power, is fully prepared to take on any challenges, both domestically and in China,” Lai’s message said.
Hsiao later told a news conference that she had been well prepared to face a series of challenges thanks to her education, her years as a lawmaker representing eastern Taiwan and her eight years as a Rep. from Taiwan to Washington.
Taiwan faces threats to its democracy from within and its security from without, “but I can’t avoid that,” said Hsiao, 52, who grew up partly in New Jersey and is degree from Oberlin College and Columbia University.