06/22/2006, 00.00
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In mainland blogosphere Taiwan scandal is a sign of democracy

Mainland media cover extensively Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian's speech and fate. Beijing's censorship comes in for online criticism. Many users see Taiwan's situation as a sign that the islanders enjoy real freedom.

Beijing (AsiaNews/SCMP) – Mainland media gave Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian's two-hour television address about the scandal that has hit his family high-profile coverage yesterday. In his Tuesday speech, Mr Chen denied allegations brought by the opposition in the last few days according to which his wife accepted "expensive gifts" in exchange of political favour. He did however say he was prepared to resign if there was irrefutable proof.

According to mainland papers and websites, including official ones, media criticism of Mr Chen did not get to the truth about corruption scandals. Opinion polls show that most Taiwanese were not satisfied.

Discussions about Mr Chen's speech were livelier on the net. Some bloggers said they believed Mr Chen's political setbacks were good for cross-strait stability because the pro-independence leader would appear less appealing to Taiwan's people.

Others questioned mainland reporting. "The things we read and hear from the media might not be factual. We can only know what our government wants us to know," one internet user wrote.

Surveys in national media have also failed to convince many. A comment on the 163.net website read: "According to reports, about 500,000 people voted to oppose Chen. Does that mean the rest of Taiwan's millions support him? The news angle is biased."

Similar views are expressed by other internet users. "Don't laugh at the scandals. The Taiwanese should be happy about them. It is a sign that they have a fully functioning democracy and a free media," wrote another internet commentator.

In Taiwan most newspapers gave Mr Chen the thumbs down. For the Taipei-based China Times daily, Chen's marathon speech contained only denials and eloquent speech, but no self reflection.  The United Daily News said the two-hour address was a "political monologue of a person who is trying to deceive himself and others".

Meanwhile, Mr Chen's fate will be sealed in the next few days. Taiwan's lawmakers are meeting in camera to discuss a joint motion by the Kuomintang and People's First Party. A decision will be taken at the end of the session expected to last four days.

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See also
Taiwanese President invites top Beijing official
Opposition in Taipei to submit recall motion to oust president
Chen sends message to Beijing
Trial of former Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian opens
Opposition trying to oust Chen Shui-bian again


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