Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has been inaugurated for a second term amid increasing pressure from China on the self-governing island democracy it claims as its own territory.
Ms Tsai represents the ruling Democratic Progressive Party which advocates Taiwan’s formal independence, something Beijing says it will use force to prevent.
She won in a landslide last year after the repression of pro-democracy protests in the nearby Chinese semi-autonomous region of Hong Kong solidified public opinion in Taiwan against moves toward accepting rule by Beijing.
The sides split amid civil war in 1949 and Beijing has cut off ties with Ms Tsai’s government over her refusal to accept its demand that she recognise the island as a part of China.
“We will not accept the Beijing authorities’ use of ‘one country, two systems’ to downgrade Taiwan and undermine the cross-strait status quo,” Ms Tsai said during the inauguration.
Following Wednesday morning’s ceremony, Ms Tsai is to give an inaugural address and preside over a parade celebrating the island’s mixed Chinese and Asian-Pacific heritage.
Among those attending are representatives of Taiwan’s remaining 15 formal diplomatic allies.
The US maintains strong but informal ties with Taiwan and is the island’s main source of military support against China’s military threats.
Prior to her address, congratulatory remarks from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were read out praising Ms Tsai’s “courage and vision in leading Taiwan’s vibrant democracy is an inspiration to the region and the world.”
“The United States has long considered Taiwan a force for good in the world and a reliable partner,” Mr Pompeo said in the statement.
“We have a shared vision for the region — one that includes rule of law, transparency, prosperity, and security for all.”
The US support comes amid rising frictions between Washington and Beijing over trade, technology and allegations of Beijing’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic that began last year.