China warns party as it picks presidential nominee

Reuters, TAIPEI and BEIJING

Thu, Apr 28, 2011 - Page 3

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) warned the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday that it risked serious problems if it pressed for independence.

“If [their] cross-strait policy is established on a ‘Taiwan independence’ splittist basis ... it does not matter how ingenious the packaging, it will certainly ... damage the peaceful development of cross-strait relations and affect stability in the Taiwan Strait,” TAO spokesman Yang Yi (楊毅) said.

The remark came as DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) won the party’s primary yesterday, securing her candidacy for next year’s presidential election, the first woman in Taiwan’s history to run for the post.

In a sign of a close-run contest, a poll taken shortly after the DPP announcement by the Prediction Market Center of Taiwan’s National Chengchi University gave the opposition party a 50.5 percent probability of winning the poll and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), 49.9 percent probability.

The KMT held on to key seats in local elections last year, but fell behind the DPP in terms of percentage of the overall vote. The result was seen as a test of the party’s popularity ahead of the Jan. 14 poll.

Tsai, 54, a polished English speaker who holds a law doctorate from the London School of Economics, will run against President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the KMT.

“Right now, Ma and Tsai have about an equal chance of winning,” said David Huang (黃偉峰), associate research fellow at the Institute of European and American Studies at Academia Sinica.