Will Taiwan's Polls Bring Stability or War? in Global Forecast: the Top Security Challenges of 2008
November 14, 2007
In March 2008, Taiwanese voters will go to the polls to directly elect a president for the fourth time in the Republic of China’s history. The United States has no favorite in the presidential race and will likely maintain strict neutrality, but it will nevertheless have important interests at stake. The issue for Washington is not which party or candidate will be in power, but rather what policies they will adopt. Preserving peaceful and stable relations between the mainland and Taiwan is a top priority. Strengthening U.S. ties with Taiwan, which have been badly frayed under Taiwan’s current president, Chen Shui-bian, is also important for American interests.
The two presidential candidates are Ma Ying-jeou, from the Nationalist (KMT) Party, and Hsieh Chang-ting, from the Democratic People’s Progressive (DPP) Party, which has ruled Taiwan for the past eight years. Taiwan politics are polarized and intensely combative, but Hsieh’s and Ma’s visions of future cross-Strait relations are remarkably harmonious. Both candidates advocate expanding cross- Strait economic ties and exchanges. Both maintain that it is up to the people of Taiwan to determine the island’s relationship with the mainland. Increasing participation in the international community in a way that does not subordinate Taiwan to the People’s Republic of China is a goal that both men espouse. Both also promise to maintain peace and stability and eschew provocative steps that could result in cross-Strait tension or even military conflict.
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