Opposition Candidate Wins Taiwan’s Presidential Election

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Supporters of Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan’s opposition Nationalist Party celebrates after Ma won the presidential elections. Photo by Andrew Wong / Getty Images.

Los Angeles Times reporter Mark Magnier reports from Taipei:

Opposition party candidate Ma Ying-jeou won the Taiwanese presidential election today in a resounding defeat for the pro-independence government, paving the way for greater attention to the economy and improved relations with China and the United States.

“For the last eight years, our relations with Washington, particularly involving mutual trust, have been severely damaged because of the adventurism of this administration,” Ma told reporters at his campaign headquarters. “By the time of the inauguration, we will make crystal clear, Taiwan will be a responsible stakeholder.”

Despite a last-minute threat by ruling party candidate Frank Hsieh fueled in part by China’s crackdown on Tibet, the likable if not particularly charismatic Harvard law graduate won by a convincing 17 percentage points.

Also from the New York Times:

Mr. Ma has taken a more cautious approach to the mainland, attending annual vigils for those killed during the Tiananmen Square killings in Beijing in 1989 and denouncing the mainland’s repression of the Falun Gong spiritual movement over the past decade. During the campaign, he ruled out any discussion of political reunification while calling for the introduction of direct, regularly scheduled flights to Shanghai and Beijing and an end to Taiwan’s extensive limits on its companies’ ability to invest on the mainland.

Chinese government officials had no immediate response to the election results on Saturday evening, but had made little secret of their hope that Mr. Ma would win.

“China has a love-hate relationship with Ma — when I visited China last November, they criticized Ma a lot, and then asked me to vote for Ma,” said Yen Chen-Shen, a political scientist at National Chengchi University.

Japanese news agency KYODO reports: Ma seen to place strong emphasis on Japan ties as Taiwan president.

And an editorial on Taiwan News says:

Ma’s election does not signify the beginning of hope or a step toward the realization of a “beautiful” or progressive peace, but the result of the result of the process of the “shattered hopes” of Taiwan’s grassroots democratic and self-determination movement.

Undeniably, the outgoing Democratic Progressive Party government of President Chen Shui-bian bears heavy responsibility for this result for being unable to realize all of its promise and fulfill the sky-high expectations of our people for change after nearly 55 years of authoritarian and one-party dominant KMT rule.

This news on the Web, via Google News.

March 22, 2008 10:41 AM
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Categories: Taiwan