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The people of Taiwan elected Lai Ching-te as president earlier this month, giving the Democratic Progressive Party another four years in control of Taiwan’s executive branch. Many of the headlines about this result focused on China’s response. But observers should take a moment to appreciate both Taiwan’s successful exercise of democracy and the smart messaging from officials in Taipei and Washington before, during, and after the elections.
Taiwanese and American leaders played election night wisely. Lai Ching-te struck exactly the right tone in his victory speech. He steadfastly committed to “maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” but also offered to “pursue exchanges and cooperation with China.” This was hardly the flamethrowing language of which Chinese officials have accused Lai. If anything, his comments signaled a willingness to