Wed, Dec 09, 2009 - Page 3 News List

White House silent on Taiwanese elections

By William Lowther  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

The White House and the US State Department have said nothing publicly concerning the results of Taiwan’s local elections and remain reluctant to comment in private beyond saying that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) “should be pleased” with the outcome.

A White House source said the elections showed Taiwan was a “healthy two-party democracy” and that a strong opposition party was to be encouraged.

Washington is likely to pay more attention now to DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who has gained considerable respect with the results.

An Associated Press news story printed by the Wall Street Journal spoke of the DPP “pro-independence opposition” making a strong showing and “clawing its way back to respectability.”

Agence France-Presse was quoted in the US press as saying the polls were widely seen as a mid-term test of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) performance and voters had “punished” the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) for the government’s push for a “controversial trade agreement with China.”

For the most part, the US media ignored the elections, but several news organizations used Reuters reports saying the elections were a test for Ma’s policy of engagement with Beijing and that “voters may have feared that a broad trade deal to be signed with China next year will affect their livelihoods.”

Foreign reports, particularly by British news outlets, were quoted by US radio stations.

The BBC said the results were seen in Taiwan as a “setback” for Ma and that analysts believed that if the voting trend continued “it could threaten President Ma’s chances of re-election in 2012.”

The Financial Times, well-read and respected in US business circles, said the elections must have been a “salutary lesson” for Ma. It said Ma looked “drawn and chastened” by the results.

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