03/25/2008, 00.00
TAIWAN – CHINA – UNITED STATES
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With President-elect Ma Ying-jeou relations with US and China to improve

Taiwanese, Chinese and American analysts and diplomats talks favourably about the election of the KMT leader. The latter is willing to talk about peace with Beijing if the mainland removes its missiles aimed at the island. China must choose.

Taipei (AsiaNews) – The election of National Party (KMT) candidate Ma Ying-jeou to Taiwa’s presidency is likely to reduce diplomatic tensions in cross-straight relations, this according to Taiwanese, Chinese and American analysts and diplomats who have favourably commented the first steps taken by the newly-elected president.

Mr Ma received 58 per cent of the vote in the 22 March vote compared to his main rival, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate, Frank Hsieh Chang-ting, who in acknowledging defeat wished his rival wisdom in government.

For his part outgoing President Chen Shui-bian said that he was ready to retire to private life.

After eight years of tensions under the pro-independence Chen, the Taiwan issue seems to be moving along a more peaceful path.

Whilst not taking sides during the campaign, the Bush administration welcomed Ma’s victory.

For Jonathan Pollack, professor of Asian studies at the U.S. Naval War College, this election means a lot to Washington. Taiwan will be again a good trade partner and proof that democracy works just a short distance from China. In recent years it was a risk on a short fuse.

He was referring to the DPP administration’ attempt to achieve formal independence from mainland China and UN recognition.

Right after his victory Mr Ma said he would not exclude a peace treaty with the mainland; however, it “will not have priority over the economy and trade. Of course, we want to get started on the issue of a peace agreement with China. We have clearly expressed that Beijing should withdraw the missiles aimed at Taiwan if it wants to have a dialogue on the issue. We don't want to talk about peace under the threat of war.”

This is indeed creating headaches for the mainland’s Communist leaders who hitherto could always play the nationalist card and point the finger at “criminal” Chen’s irrational demands.

Now Beijing is confronted instead by someone open to dialogue and its militarist proclamations in defence of a threatened national integrity no longer seem justified.

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