10/05/2011, 00.00
TAIWAN – CHINA – JAPAN
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2012 elections: DPP candidate Tsai on Taiwan’s future

The opposition leader challenges outgoing President Ma’s pro-Beijing stance. For her, any dialogue with the mainland requires respect for the island’s democracy. Visiting Japan, she supports a three-way deal between Taipei, Tokyo and Washington.
Tokyo (AsiaNews) – Taiwan's future is in the hands of its people, not China’s. Any dialogue between Taipei and Beijing must be transparent and in line with the democratic consensus of the Taiwanese people, said Tsai Ing-wen (pictured), head of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in a speech in Tokyo yesterday. She is her party’s candidate in upcoming 14 January presidential election, and her eventual election worries mainland China.

Unlike former two-time President Chen Shui-bian, also from the DPP (now in jail over corruption charges), Ms Tsai is not pro-independence and is willing to work with Taiwan’s neighbour on condition that the island’s democratic character is respected. This means however that she is backing away from the current stance of President Ma Ying-jeou, from the Kuomintang, who has shown greater openness towards Communist China.

At present, the presidential election is a three-way race since the arrival of James Soong, founder of the People First Party, who is challenging both Tsai and Ma for the island’s top job. He has also accused Communist China of interfering in the election.

Tsai agrees. "There is no doubt that the [mainland] Chinese are watching our elections closely," Tsai said. However, "In the past, attempts to intervene in our elections have backfired."

For Beijing, the current president is the best candidate. He has overturned all pro-independence steps taken by his predecessor as well as signed 15 economic agreements with the mainland.

Tsai instead backs the alliance (including at the military level) between Japan and the United State, which in her view is “important for regional stability”.

The latest public opinion polls give Ma an edge over his rivals, but the DPP candidate is gaining ground each week.

For mainland China, the prospect of another DPP president in Taiwan is not the only headache. For Beijing, which considers the island part of its territory despite Chiang Kai-shek’s flight there in 1949, Tsai might seek a new deal with Japan. This and US aid could thus jeopardise Communist China’s dominance in the region.
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