04/03/2008, 00.00
TAIWAN - CHINA
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The new president of Taiwan opens to Beijing, for a negotiated truce

The election of the nationalist Ma Ying-jeou allows Beijing to catch its breath in view of the Olympics: neither of the two neighbours of the Straits of Taiwan has any interest in ramping up conflict in this period. "Separatist" stamps blocked.

Taipei (AsiaNews) - With the presidential election of the nationalist Ma Ying-jeou, relations between China and Taiwan seem ready for improvement.  The Chinese leadership declares that it has "taken into consideration the appointment of the new head of the Taiwanese region", without directly attacking the island and its inhabitants, while the new president of Taipei speaks of "possible and hoped-for agreements with China, above all on the economic level".

Nonetheless, various analysts are warning that more than a peace, one must speak of "a negotiated truce", which is useful to both parties for different reasons.  Beijing is still in complete crisis over Tibet, and cannot afford opening another active front just a few months from the beginning of the Olympics.  Ma, and the Kuomintang that he represents, must consolidate the power they have just gained, and take into account the 5.5 million Taiwanese who did not vote for them.

There are numerous signs of this desire for a truce: the most recent concerns the stamps issued by Taipei, which former democratic president Chen Shuibian wanted to print with the official name of Taiwan (in place of the classical "Republic of China") in order to signal to the world the island's complete self-determination with respect to the mainland.  As his first official move after the confirmation of his election victory, Ma Ying-jeou has ordered the printing to be delayed for "technical reasons".

Beijing, through prime minister Wen Jiabao, has recalled that "if the principle of the indivisibility of China is accepted, then any detail can be discussed with any party".  The veiled message is very clear: if Taipei agrees to renounce plans for independence, conditions can be created that are advantages for all.  This solution seems to be accepted even by the United States, the historical military "protector" of the former Formosa.

At this point, trade comes back into play, the true point of contact between the two neighbours of the Straits: the nationalist president has asked for a meeting with the Chinese trade and transportation ministers, to prepare a plan for regular air traffic of trade and tourists.  In all probability, the results of this meeting, still to be scheduled, will lay the foundation for the four years of the Kuomintang presidency.

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