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Opposition wins Taiwan presidential vote

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080322/ap_on_re_as/taiwan_presidential_election Opposition wins Taiwan presidential vote By PETER ENAV, Associated Press Writer 5
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 22, 2008
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080322/ap_on_re_as/taiwan_presidential_election

      Opposition wins Taiwan presidential vote

      By PETER ENAV, Associated Press Writer 5 minutes ago

      TAIPEI, Taiwan - Taiwan's opposition candidate cruised
      to victory in the presidential election Saturday,
      promising to expand economic ties with China while
      protecting the island from being swallowed up
      politically by its giant communist neighbor.

      Fireworks lit up the sky over Ma Ying-jeou's
      headquarters, and cheering supporters put up victory
      posters as they waited for the former Taipei mayor to
      give a victory speech. Across town, a crying crowd
      gathered at the campaign office for ruling party
      candidate Frank Hsieh, a former premier.

      Ma won 58 percent of the votes compared to 41.5
      percent for Hsieh, according to the preliminary count
      by the Central Election Commission.

      "We won!" shouted Jason Hu, a high-ranking member of
      Ma's Nationalist Party.

      A ruling party spokeswoman, Hsieh Hsin-ni, told
      supporters, "We are accepting this defeat."

      Ma and Hsieh have both said they want a less
      confrontational relationship with China. But they were
      divided on how best to deal with Beijing, which
      presents both a huge opportunity for the island's
      powerful business community and a looming threat to
      its evolving democracy.

      Taiwan and the mainland split amid civil war in 1949,
      but China still considers the island to be part of its
      territory. Beijing has threatened to attack if Taiwan
      rejects unification and seeks a permanent break.

      The Central Election Commission also said two
      referendums calling on the government to work for the
      island's entry into the United Nations failed. China
      had warned that the referendums threatened stability
      in the region.

      Ma has based his campaign on promises to reverse the
      pro-independence direction of outgoing President Chen
      Shui-bian and leverage China's white-hot economic boom
      to re-energize Taiwan's ailing high-tech economy.

      He has proposed a formal peace treaty with Beijing
      that would demilitarize the Taiwan Strait,
      100-mile-wide waterway that separates the two heavily
      armed sides. But he has drawn the line at unification,
      promising it would not be discussed during his
      presidency.

      Economically, he wants to lower barriers to Taiwanese
      investment on the mainland — it already amounts to
      more than $100 billion — and begin direct air and
      maritime links between the sides.

      Ma is particularly interested in expanding the
      China-Taiwan high-tech connection, which every year
      sends billions of dollars' worth of Taiwan's advanced
      components to low-cost assembly plants along China's
      rapidly developing east coast.

      That interest resonated with businessman Wang Wen-ho,
      who cast his ballot for Ma at a Taipei high school.

      "The DPP has failed to cope with China's growth in
      eight years," he said. "We need to engage the mainland
      to improve the economy."

      Hsieh has accepted his party's independence platform,
      but without the special vehemence of Chen, whose
      support for separatist policies constantly incensed
      China and caused grave concern in the United States,
      Taiwan's most important foreign partner.

      Hsieh's party had used the last day of campaigning to
      fan outrage over China's handling of protests in
      Tibet, warning the crackdown could be replicated in
      Taiwan.

      He also had warned voters that if he loses, Ma's party
      will control both the presidency and the legislature,
      creating a dangerous imbalance of power.

      Taipei voter Chen Wei-ting, a 32-year-old banker,
      shared the same concern and voted for Hsieh. "I'm
      worried that if one party had the legislature and
      presidency, there could be a lot of trouble."
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