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Taiwan: New Prez seeks peace with China; Beijing sanctions US cos

Taiwan: New Prez seeks peace with China; Beijing sanctions US cos

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: Taiwan’s new President William Lai Ching-te, in his inaugural address on Monday, sought peace with China. In response, Beijing announced sanctions on leading US companies, like Boeing, for arms sales to Taiwan.

Soon after being sworn in as the new President, Ching-te praised the self-governing island’s democracy and urged China to stop its “intimidation.”

China’s Ministry of Commerce announced sanctions against Boeing and two other defense companies on Monday for arms sales to Taiwan on the day of the new President’s inauguration.

The move is the latest in a series of sanctions Beijing has announced in recent years against defense companies for weapons sales to Taiwan, a self-ruled island that China claims as its territory.

Beijing placed Boeing’s Defense, Space & Security unit, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, and General Dynamics Land Systems, on what is called an “unreliable entities” list, forbidding their further investment in China, in addition to travel bans on senior management for the companies, the media reported.

Lai and Vice President Hsia Bi-khim took their oaths on Monday beneath a portrait of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the founder of the Republic of China (ROC), the formal name for Taiwan’s government, in a ceremony held at the presidential building in the capital, Taipei.

Ching-te, 64, was given two seals that symbolize presidential power from the parliament speaker: one the ROC seal and the other, a seal of honor. Both were brought to the island by the Nationalists in 1949 after they lost China’s civil war to the Communists.

Outgoing President Tsai Ing-wen also bid farewell during the ceremony, signing off after eight years and a maximum of two terms in office.
Addressing the crowds, Lai noted the significance of May 20 – the day in 1949 when martial law was imposed and also the day in 1997 when Taiwan’s first popularly-elected president was sworn into office – “signaling to the international community that the Republic of China, Taiwan, is a sovereign and independent nation with sovereignty resting in the people.”

He stressed Taiwan would make no concessions on its democracy and freedoms and called on Beijing to “stop its aggression against Taiwan” and strive to “maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the region, ensuring the world is free from the fear of war.”

Beijing claims Taiwan as its own and has not ruled out the use of force to achieve its goals. Throughout Tsai’s two terms in office, it sent military aircraft and ships near the island and has continued to do so since Lai, whom it considers a “separatist” and a “troublemaker”, emerged the victor in January’s elections.

Representatives from 29 countries joined the ceremony on Monday, including those from Taiwan’s last 12 diplomatic allies in the Pacific, Central America, and the Holy See.

Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attended, as did Former Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite and representatives of foreign “economic” or “trade” offices that serve as de facto diplomatic missions for countries that maintain formal ties with Beijing.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken sent a message of congratulations and said Washington looked forward to working with Lai to “deepen our longstanding unofficial relationship, and maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait”.

There was no immediate comment in China’s state media on Lai’s inauguration.

In a story published ahead of the ceremony, China’s state-run “Global Times” tabloid referred to Lai as a “regional leader”.

Lai Ching-te has vowed to strengthen Taiwan’s security through imports of advanced fighters and other technology and strengthening its domestic defense industry.

In April, China froze assets of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems held within China.

Corporate filings show General Dynamics operates a half-dozen Gulfstream and jet aviation services operations in China, which remains heavily reliant on foreign aerospace technology even as it attempts to build its presence in the field.

The company also helps make the Abrams tank, which is being purchased by Taiwan to replace outdated armor intended to deter or resist an invasion from China, the media reported.

General Atomics produces the Predator and Reaper drones used by the US military, although it is unclear what weapons, if any, the company sells to Taiwan.

In 2022, China announced sanctions against Ted Colbert, the President, and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space and Security. after the company won a USD 355 million contract to supply Harpoon missiles to Taiwan.

Taiwan has faced increasing military harassment from China’s People’s Liberation Army, which regularly flies fighter jets and sails warships near the island.

The likely impact of Beijing’s sanctions on businesses such as Boeing is unclear.

The United States bars most sales of weapons-related technology to China, but some military contractors also have civilian businesses in aerospace and other industries.


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