Front-runner candidate picks former representative to US as running mate

William Lai (left) the candidate of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and Hsiao Bi-kim

The front-runner candidate in Taiwan’s top election has picked the long-term representative to the United States as his running mate.

Government’s No.2 William Lai announced yesterday on his Facebook page the nomination of Hsiao Bi-ki — who was born in Japan to a Taiwanese father and an American mother — as his running mate in January’s elections. His choice would likely bolster support among backers of his ruling Democratic Progressive Party, which has long defied Beijing’s demands to return the island under the rule of the Communist Party.

Lai and Hsiao face a divided opposition, led by the Nationalist Party, also known as the Kuomintang or KMT, that has sought to draw independent candidates to their ticket. Polls show Lai is ahead.

Lai currently serves as deputy to leader Tsai Ing-
wen, who is restricted from running for a third four-year term. In his Facebook post, Tsai said Hsiao had been crucial to cooperation with the U.S., Taiwan’s chief ally.

“This team, following Tsai’s eight years in power, is completely prepared to withstand all challenges, both domestically and from China,” Lai’s post said.

Hsiao later told a news conference that she had been prepared well to deal with a range of challenges by her upbringing, her years as a legislator representing eastern Taiwan and her eight years as Taiwan’s representative in Washington.

Taiwan faces threats to its democracy from within and to its security from outside, “but there is no way I can avoid this,” said Hsiao, 52, who was partly raised in New Jersey and has degrees from Oberlin College and Columbia University. MDT/AP

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