09/29/2011, 00.00
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Soong announces candidacy for 2012 presidential election, citing threats from Beijing

The founder of the People First Party confirms to want to run in the elections, scheduled for next Jan. 14, but Beijing accuses him of interfering in the election campaign. Campaign for the island’s next president heats up.
Taipei (AsiaNews) - The campaign for Taiwan's future president is heating up ahead of the vote next Jan. 14. James Soong, the founder of the People First Party, has announced his intention to run "to break the dominance of the two major parties," but has accused Beijing of "wanting to boycott him" to prevent the nationalist Ma - considered the Chinese government favourite – from loosing valuable votes.

The complaint, voiced again in an interview with newspaper Next, it is not without foundation: in fact in 2000 Soong left the Kuomintang - the Nationalist Party, considered close to the interests of mainland China - and divided the electorate. That move led to the first election of fiercely anti-Beijing Chen Shui-bian, Democratic Progressive Party candidate, who is also an advocate of political independence.

After Chen's two terms (which ended with a trial and an even more dubious conviction for corruption), power in Taipei passed into the hands of Ma Ying-jeou: The former mayor of the island opened up to new relationships up with the former mother country to sign a historic agreement for free trade. Beijing, however, still considers Taiwan a renegade province to be brought to heel.

For his part, Soong - 69, a former provincial governor - is "not hostile" to mainland China and added his desire to improve the ties between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait even further. But he considesr the island "more important than anything else" and says he wants to work "so that people can return to live with dignity and pride in their own political free and democratic system".

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