TAIPEI, TAIWAN — Taiwan’s ruling party nominated Vice President William Lai as its candidate for the 2024 presidential elections on Wednesday, choosing a candidate who has been more outspoken on independence than incumbent Tsai Ing-wen.
“I am very honoured to have received the DPP’s nomination to take part in the 2024 presidential election and to uphold the duty of safeguarding Taiwan,” Lai said at a Democratic Progressive Party press conference.
The announcement comes two days after China formally ended massive war games around Taiwan that saw it simulate targeted strikes and practise a blockade of the island.
Lai, 63, has long been considered the frontrunner for the DPP nomination to succeed Tsai, who is barred from running again after her second four-year term ends in May 2024 and is openly loathed by Beijing for his views on Taiwanese independence.
In January, immediately after taking over the party leadership, Lai declared that “appeasement cannot buy peace,” and urged Taiwanese people to unite to protect the island from authoritarian China.
China, which claims self-ruled Taiwan as part of its own territory, has ramped up military, diplomatic and economic pressure on Taiwan since Tsai’s 2016 election.