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CMSI’s Perspectives and Key Takeaways:

  • The incoming William Lai/Bi-khim Hsiao administration almost certainly intends to continue to execute and deepen President Tsai’s defense reforms. Lai has also stated his support for the implementation of an Indo-Pacific Strategy concept.
  • Lai has an opportunity to leverage the national security experience of President Tsai’s outgoing advisors, who may potentially help his administration calibrate Taiwan’s responses to People’s Liberation Army (PLA) military provocations in and around the Taiwan Strait.
  • The Lai administration likely would prove receptive to U.S. and partner overtures that contribute to Taiwan’s ability to strengthen its maritime domain awareness and security; enhance maritime law enforcement and search and rescue capabilities; conduct maritime patrols; and improve information sharing.
  • Lai intends to maintain the cross-Strait status quo, and has stated that he is willing to conduct dialogue with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on the basis of mutual respect and equality.
  • Lai almost certainly will seek to continue President Tsai Ing-wen’s policy of diversifying Taiwan’s economy and expanding sustainable trade partnerships with democratic nations. He has stated that overdependence on the PRC leaves Taiwan vulnerable to economic coercion, and thus opposes pursuing further economic agreements with China under the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) or a potential Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement (CSTSA).

Publication Date



China Maritime Studies Institute, U.S Naval War College


Newport, Rhode Island


China, PRC, China Maritime Studies Institute, CMSI, People’s Liberation Army, People’s Liberation Army Navy, PLAN, Taiwan, Lai, Hsiao

CMSI Note #3: “Choose the Right Person, Choose the Right Path”: Taiwan’s Cross-Strait, National Security, and Defense Policies Under a Lai/Hsiao Administration