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Home The News News VP Lai makes ‘Time’ influential list

VP Lai makes ‘Time’ influential list

President-elect William Lai (賴清德), the vice president, has been listed by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world this year.

Lai, who is to take office as president next month, is a coal miner’s son who became a Harvard-trained public health expert, and prizes problem solving and trust, the magazine said.

When he is sworn in as president on May 20, Lai would face much bigger challenges than safeguarding the health of 24 million Taiwanese, as he has to ensure “his government’s very survival, amid China’s ramped-up campaign to reclaim the nascent democracy,” Time said in the article, which was published on Wednesday.

President-elect William Lai is pictured in an article in Time magazine naming him one of the 100 most influential people in the world this year.

Photo from Time magazine’s Web site

Taiwan’s energetic civil society is flourishing, while its trade is booming, providing more than 50 percent of critical microchips on the global market, but “with tensions rising with Beijing — its risk profile couldn’t be higher,” Jon Huntsman, a former Utah governor and former US ambassador to China and Russia, said in the article.

As Lai garnered only 40 percent of the popular vote in January’s presidential election, he is expected to encounter a task like Atlas shouldering the world, as depicted in Greek mythology, the magazine said.

However, “less mythological will be his choices and their impact on a world on edge — to say nothing of the future of democracy in Asia,” Time said.

In the Jan. 13 presidential election, Lai of the Democratic Progressive Party won with 40.05 percent of the vote, beating the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) candidate, New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), who garnered 33.49 percent and Taiwan People’s Party Chairman Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) who had 26.46 percent.

The magazine’s description of Lai as “Taiwan’s next president” showed international recognition of Taiwan’s democratic achievements, Presidential Office spokeswoman Olivia Lin (林聿禪) said yesterday.

Lin thanked Huntsman for the Lai citation, saying that it showed the former ambassador’s long-term support for Taiwan.

Lai will bear the responsibility of safeguarding Taiwan’s democracy and will work with like-minded countries to maintain peace and prosperity in the region, Lin said.

Lai on Facebook wrote that he was honored to be on the list and thanked Huntsman for penning the introduction.

This is a key year for the world, as 64 countries with 49 percent of the world’s population are to hold national elections, with Taiwan’s general election among the most important, he said.

By casting their ballots, Taiwanese “wrote a new page in the history of democracy and signaled again to the world that ‘Taiwan is democracy and democracy is Taiwan,’” Lai said, adding that the election was “the nation’s pride.”

The nation occupies a crucial position in the revolutions in computer technology, artificial intelligence and industry, giving it a unique opportunity to shape the future, he said.

“Taiwan’s ineluctable mission and duty will be to safeguard the prosperity and happiness of the world,” he said.

“Now is the time for Taiwan and for Taiwanese to write an age of hope and dauntlessness together,” he wrote. “I will take on my duties with the attitude of problem-solving and the spirit of trust to defend our beautiful nation and democracy.”

Lai was listed in the “Leaders” category of Time’s most influential people this year, with the other categories being “Artists,” “Icons,” “Titans,” “Innovators” and “Pioneers.”

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr and Chinese Premier Li Qiang (李強) were also listed among the most influential leaders in the world this year.

In 2020, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was named as one of the world’s 100 most influential people in Time’s annual publication of the list.

Additional reporting by Chen Cheng-yu

Source: Taipei Times - 2024/04/19

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