Taiwan’s president, Chen Shui-bian, and ideologues within the ruling Democratic Progressive Party are trying to corner Frank Hsieh, the DPP presidential candidate who has long been considered a moderate, and tying him to a radical pro-independence platform in the campaign for next March’s election – but the candidate is still trying to create some maneuvering space for himself.
President Chen, who assumed the concurrent post of party chairman in mid-October, has put his own stamp on the campaign by calling for a referendum to be held the same day as the presidential election. It asks voters whether the island should apply to join the United Nations using the name Taiwan rather than its formal name, the Republic of China. By so doing, he has made Taiwan’s identity and Taiwanese independence the predominant issues in the campaign, rather than the economy. [Full Text]