The results of the election amount to an announcement to the world that the people of Taiwan reject China's missile threat, that they do not accept "one country, two systems" and that Taiwan will move toward a deepening of democracy and become an independent sovereign state worthy of its name. At a difficult time when an attempt had been made on the lives of Presi-dent Chen Shui-bian (
Even though the Democratic Progressive Party won power in the previous presidential election, both Beijing and the pro-unification groups in Taiwan believed Chen won power on the cheap because of an internal split within the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). This time, however, Chen has won more than half of the votes, proving that a majority of the Taiwanese people have made their voice heard and made a choice. This will have several ramifications.
First, cross-strait relations must be redefined. The Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) media have always claimed that Chen and a small clique were trying to deceive the Taiwanese people and use "so-called democracy" to promote Taiwan independence. The election of the Chen-Lu ticket by a majority will demonstrate the reality of the Taiwanese people's demand for independent sovereignty to China and the world. This will make the CCP's propaganda war very difficult. And for many years a propaganda war has been the only war the CCP could fight.
With majority support, Chen's government can now face the CCP on a footing of public opinion, which is always more powerful than missiles. Taiwan's public opinion will force the CCP to change its policy in accordance with the reality in Taiwan.
Faced with the election results in Taiwan, the CCP can no longer carry on with the "one country, two systems" fantasy. Using the ballots in their hands, the people of Taiwan have said to China loud and clear: Taiwan is an independent, sovereign state.
The Taiwanese people do not accept the "one country, two systems" formula. Nor do they accept cross-strait relations under any "one China" framework. They have used ballots to send the illusory "one China" into history.
No matter how unwilling Bei-jing is, it must not ignore the reality. It can only adjust its policies on the basis of the election result. If it resorts to its past attempts and continues to pressure Taiwan, it will only push Taiwan toward independence and nation-building sooner.
Chen's re-election has shown Taiwan's real voice to the whole world. It is not reasonable to exclude the country's 23 million people from the UN. The international community must no longer ignore their voice. It is also a shock to the "one China" policy held by the US and other Western countries.
Although the US extended recognition when Mao Zedong (毛澤東) and Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) both claimed "one China," nobody in Washington has admitted in the past years that Taiwan is part of the PRC. The result of this election is a public declaration by Taiwanese people that they do not accept "one China." The public will undoubtedly challenge the US' one-China policy and push it to respect the Taiwanese people's choice.
At a meeting held on Feb. 26, the US Heritage Foundation concluded that if Chen was re-elected, Washington must "re-evaluate the US `one China' policy" and face up to the reality of "one China, one Taiwan."
Over a billion Asians are voting in democratic elections this year. India will hold elections in a month's time. By not restoring an old and corrupt force, the Tai-wanese people's victory is sending a signal to other Asian nations saying that democracy is not on the wane in Taiwan, that reforms will continue, and that the voice of the Taiwanese people has become the mainstream.
In particular, Chen's re-election is a signal to the people of Hong Kong that Taiwan wants a president and not a chief executive, that the people of Taiwan want democracy and not missiles, that the Taiwanese people dare to say "No!" to the Chinese hegemony.
This will encourage and energize the people of Hong Kong to say an even braver "No!" to China's rulers, throw out the communist-appointed chief executive, and make still louder calls for a directly elected leader.
Chen's victory has also been a wake-up call for pan-blue supporters. It has made them realize that the voice of the Taiwanese cannot be ignored, and that continuing to stress "one China" cannot lead anywhere.
Unless the KMT is reformed, and unless it aims toward developing local roots, it will have no future. Support for Taiwan's development toward independence and nation-building has already become a mainstream value.
The only remaining possibility for the KMT if it wants to continue to exist as a party is to reform itself into the "Taiwan Nationalist Party."
The fact that Chen has been re-elected with a majority of the vote should make pan-blue supporters look at the nation from a new perspective. It should make them realize that the news fed to them on a daily basis by the pan-blue media has been neither correct nor accurate. Looking at Taiwan through the eyes of the pan-blue media is tantamount to looking at it through prejudiced eyes, which can only lead to misjudgments.
The historic significance of Chen's re-election for the deepening of Taiwanese democracy and Taiwan's move toward becoming a sovereign and independent nation will become increasingly evident with the passage of time.
Cao Chang-ching is a writer and journalist based in New York.
Translated by Francis Huang, Jackie Lin and Perry Svensson
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