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Taiwanese presidential election

Published (Volume 76, No. 31)

A recount of the votes from the March 20 Taiwanese presidential election in which Chen Shui-bian won by less than 30,000 votes out of more than 13 million cast may begin on May 10, a lawyer for the ruling party said on Wednesday.

This election is important for the Chinese as well as the Taiwanese because it may affect already strained relations between Taiwan and China.  Talks between the two nations have been frozen since 1999. 

Chen Shui-Bine has insisted on moves toward Taiwan’s independence, while China asserts that Taiwan is a part of the People’s Republic and it will not hesitate to mobilize its military if Taiwan declares its independence.

“Although we are looking for a peaceful way, China will have military action if Taiwan declares its independence,” said a Chinese sophomore, who declined identifying himself.  “Taiwan is a part of China.”

The United States has opposed any changes which will cause conflict between Taiwan and China.  The Bush administration recognizes Taiwan as a part of China.

“We’re prepared to see a change in the status quo.  We want it to happen peacefully with the consent of the parties,” Deputy Asst. Secretary of State Matthew Daley said last Thursday.
However, the Pentagon revealed on March 31 that the U.S. sold sophisticated radar equipment to Taiwan. 

This purportedly would counter Chinese missiles pointed at Taiwan.  Chinese officials objected to this during Vice President Cheney’s recent visit to Beijing.

“There’s a contradiction ... Any country wants to have a good relationship with China because of money,” a Taiwanese freshman, who also did not wish to be identified, noting that French president Jacques Chirac recognized Taiwan as a part of China before the Taiwanese presidential election.  “The American and French attitudes toward China and Taiwan are just about money.”

China’s economy has been growing—the National Bureau of Statistics reported annualized growth of 9.7 percent for the first quarter of 2004.  Countries all over the world seek markets in China.

On the other side, Taiwan has developed a distinct culture as a nation since breaking ties with the mainland.  Taiwanese students identify themselves as Taiwanese.

“China is a foreign country, but it is better to unite with China,” the Taiwanese freshman said.  “The Chinese economy will grow ... but our economic situation is not good.  That’s why we may need to unite with them.”