Fri, Jan 20, 2012 - Page 3 News List

US academic says Taiwan can be proud of elections

Staff Writer, with CNA, NEW YORK

Taiwanese can be proud of their recent presidential election, a US academic at New York University said on Wednesday, adding that it could have a big impact on China.

It was an election with minimal reports of vote-buying, which shows that Taiwan has the ability to conduct a clean and peaceful poll, Jerome Cohen said at an event sponsored by the National Committee on United States-China Relations.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) won last Saturday’s election by a margin of nearly 6 percent over his main challenger, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).

The professor said the results showed that the DPP is now back on its feet and Taiwan can move toward party politics. More importantly, many Chinese were able to follow the election via Twitter and other social networks, which could have a big impact, he said. In 2008, only a few Chinese were able to circumvent the government’s firewalls and obtain information about the election in Taiwan, Cohen said.

Ma’s re-election showed that people are satisfied with his cross-strait policies, said Cohen, who was Ma’s mentor during the president’s student years at Harvard University.

Cohen said he hopes that during the next four years, the favorable cross-strait climate results in further agreements or the implementation of already signed agreements. However, he said it would not be an easy task.

“The easy work was done last term,” he said. “This term will be much harder.”

However, if Ma continues to work hard to tackle some of the nation’s unresolved problems, he could make a great contribution to world peace, the professor said.

Ma “could be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize,” Cohen said, adding that the Taiwan Strait is one of the most dangerous places in the world.

It is in the interests of Taiwanese to achieve reasonable cross-strait agreements without sacrificing personal security, he said.

He mentioned the possibility of more practical economic cooperation, further development of the natural resources in the South China Sea and greater protection of Taiwanese.

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