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Changing Leadership

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Taiwan Voters Choose Peace With China

 

By James Donahue

 

There was very good news from Taiwan this week. The opposition Nationalist Party won a landslide victory in legislative elections. Voters thus made it clear that they do not support the hard-line China policies of President Chen Shui-bian and are about to boot his Democratic Progressive Party out of office.

 

They will have their chance to choose a successor to Chen during presidential elections on March 22. Nationalist candidate Ma Ying-jeou is favored to win that election. Polls currently give him a 20-point lead.

 

The election may already have eased tensions between Taiwan and China over Chen’s threats to formalize an independence Taiwan acquired in civil war some 60 years ago. Mainland China claims Taiwan as its own sovereign territory and threatens to attack if Chen's government attempts to declare Taiwan an independent state. China has set up missiles at the Taiwan Straits and has had warships patrolling off the coast to show just how serious it is about this matter.

 

China’s strategy has worked well. The threat of an attack has staved off any political moves by Chen’s government. The patient wait appears to have been very wise on the part of Chinese leadership. Such an attack could have drawn the United States in a conflict with China. The US has supported Taiwan militarily and President Bush once pledged to defend Taiwan in the event of an attack.

 

Nationalist Ma favors stronger ties with mainland China. In fact, the Democratic Progressive presidential candidate Frank Hsieh also is advocating a softer approach to Chinese relations.

 

Hsieh advocates the party’s pro-independence line in principle, but he says he rejects some of Chen’s hard-line policies including moves to limit Taiwanese economic ties to Mainland China. He favors an expansion of direct charter flights between Taiwan and China.

 

Ma and the Nationlists, by contrast, would remove the asset requirements on investments and sanction scheduled flights between China and Taiwan. They do not rule out eventual unification.

 

We support the Nationalist platform. This is a critical time for nations to begin joining forces and working together to solve world environmental and financial problems. The time of separationism must be over if we expect to have any kind of future on this planet.