Taiwan presidential contender to visit US in April
The head of a small Taiwanese political party will next month become the first contender for 2024’s presidential election to visit the United States, to brief officials on his policies should he win office, though that may be a long shot.
Taiwanese presidential candidates traditionally go to the United States before elections given Washington’s oversized role in backing Taiwan internationally and ensuring its security in the face of China’s military threats to the island Beijing views as “sacred” Chinese territory.
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The Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), only founded in 2019, said on Monday its Chairman Ko Wen-je would make a 21-day trip to the United States beginning on April 8 in his capacity as the party’s presidential nominee, though he has yet to formally be declared its candidate.
Ko, who served two terms as Taipei mayor until stepping down last year because of term limits, will meet State Department officials - the party declined to say who - and speak at universities including Harvard.
“We want to use this opportunity to exchange views with the US side, about Chairman Ko’s views on diplomacy or relations with China going forward,” party Secretary General Tom Chou told reporters in Taipei.
The party has positioned itself as seeking a middle way between the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) which strongly supports Taiwan’s sovereignty, and the main opposition party the Kuomintang, or KMT, which traditionally favors close ties with China.
Ko sought engagement with China while he was mayor, though last year he criticized China’s military pressure during a virtual meeting with Shanghai officials.
Ko is a long shot contender for the presidency given the party’s recent founding and minimal representation in parliament, with only five out of 113 lawmakers.
Neither the DPP nor KMT have announced their presidential candidates yet, though the DPP is widely expected to select Vice President William Lai, who is also party chairman.
The presidential and parliamentary elections take place next January.
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