Mon, May 26, 2003 - Page 3 News List

China's hurdles may help DPP in 2004

THE BACKLASH EFFECT Beijing has no other choice than to stick to its guns and pressure local voters not to vote for Chen, but in the past it's had the opposite effect

By Sandy Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Although China's incessant obstruction of Taiwan on the international stage is nothing new, political observers said that China's recent barrage of moves against Taiwan would nonetheless have direct bearing on Taiwan's upcoming presidential elections.

The presidential election is slated to take place on March 20 next year.

A joint presidential ticket for the pro-unification pan-blue camp is becoming a reality as opposition KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and his PFP counterpart James Soong (宋楚瑜) signed a memorandum of understanding in February on the formation of a KMT-PFP alliance. The two formed a joint ticket for the election last month featuring Lien as the presidential candidate and Soong as his running mate.

The joint ticket of Lien and Soong will run against President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who is of the pro-independent DPP party and is seeking re-election.

Beijing positioned military aircraft carriers in the seas off Taiwan and lobbed nuclear-capable missiles into the Taiwan Strait and in the Pacific east of the country prior to completion of the nation's first direct election for the president in March 1996. Beijing's moves then ended up helped sweeping Lee to a landslide victory in the election.

In the run up to the 2000 presidential election, threatening rhetoric from China' s premier at the time, Zhu Rongji (朱鎔基), had again resulted in strong counter effects, which helped sweep voters sentiment in favor of Chen, the DPP candidate whom attached importance to Taiwan's independent sovereignty and integrity.

Would China's recent volleys of rhetoric against Taiwan exacerbate locals' soured feeling toward China and thus prompt Taiwanese electorate as a protest against China's adamant bullying of Taiwan to vote for Chen?

Chiu Hei-yuan (瞿海源), a political observer and sociology professor at the National Taiwan University, thinks that China's on-going bullying of Taiwan would have a negative impact on the pro-unification pan-blue camp.

"China's incessant obstruction against Taiwan actually will end up playing more like a plus to the DPP in the run up to next year's presidential election, " said Chiu.

"China's constant bullying of Taiwan is more likely to encourage voters to vote for a pro-independent candidate, who asserts Taiwan's dignity and integrity," said Chiu, adding that pan-blue camp's ambiguous China policy causes serious doubt among the electorate.

Due to Beijing's machinations, Chen Szu-yu (陳思羽), Taiwan's representative in the in the Miss Universe contest, was forced to wear a name sash in the contest's first formal stage activity on May 17 in Panama City reading "Miss Chinese Taipei." She had originally registered in the event as "Miss Taiwan."

"Although China had learned the lesson from 1996 and 2000 that their adamant opposition against Taiwan is likely to result in a strong backlash, it finds it hard not to [oppose the DPP candidate] given its long-time stance with regard regard to Taiwan," said Chiu.

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