Surprising victory at the presidential elections only complicated the problems for Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian. Shortly before the election day, President Chen Shui-bian and Vice President Annet Lu were wounded at assignation attempt on them. Chen Shui-bian was taken to hospital, but several hours after the surgery, he came to the poll to vote. This heroic conduct significantly increased his rating, and he was elected for the second term.
However, the victory can result in bad consequences both for Mr. Chen Shui-bian and the independence of Taiwan. He surpassed the opposing candidate only by 13,000 votes (totally 13 million Taiwanese voted at the elections). The worst thing is that 330 thousand voting bulletins were considered not valid. Taiwanese opposition requested recounting the votes, and there are grounds for changing the results of the elections.
The situation when the election result is not clear, is familiar – let us remember the last elections in the USA. However, the elections in Taiwan have one key distinction from the US – the issue of relations with China was in the focus of the election debates.
Taiwanese have started thinking about this issue only recently. After the Army of the nationalistic government of China was defeated by the supporters of Mao, and the former government escaped to Taiwan in 1949, there were no relations at all for 40 years. Communists ruled in China, Kuomintang party was in power in Taiwan. Both the states pretended that they are genuine Chinese governments, and their opponents are rebels. First Taiwan was succeeding in convincing the world about this, but then the fast economic growth of China made the world respect China and ignore Taiwan. In recent years, the situation has been aggravated by the economic growth in the coastal areas of China, near the border with Taiwan. There are more and more connections between the economies of the two countries, and it is impossible for China and Taiwan to continue ignoring each other. Taiwanese Kuomintang party fought China for a long time and banned propaganda of Communist ideas in the island, but today this party unites the opponents of Taiwanese independence. Former nationalists are hoping to become closer with China and do not insist on their leadership in the united country.
However, Kuomintang is no longer in power – in 2000 Taiwanese people voted for dismissing this party and electing Chen Shui-bian the President. He has no ties with the nationalists, and his Democratic Progressive Party founded election campaign on the promise to proclaim the island independent state and write this in Taiwanese Constitution. The President hoped to receive the approval for this idea from Taiwanese people at the referendum he arranged on the election day. Organizing referendum was a hard task for Chen Shui-bian, because Taiwanese legislation allows to have referendum only under the military threat. Taiwanese authorities found the way out of the situation by declaring 500 Chinese missiles pointed at Taiwan as a threat. One more problem aroused: the USA forbade Taiwan to confront Chia. Under the US pressure, the question about Chinese missile threat was withdrawn from the referendum. The second question was written in this way, “Do you agree that the government is required to start open negotiations with China and establish peaceful and stable cooperation in the search of agreement?”
No person seems to give a negative response on the offer of the peace and stability. Both the referendum questions were composed in the way when it was hard to answer “no”. However, voters realized that Chen Shui-bian wants to receive their approval of his radical foreign policy ideas. This was his big mistake. Most of the voters did not answer the referendum questions. Only 45 percent of the voters participated in the referendum, but more than half of them rejected the ideas of the government. The ruling party put itself in a trap.
Currently thousands of Taiwanese are participating in demonstrations and demanding President Chen Shui-bian to resign. Representatives of Kuomintang are saying that the attempt of assassination could be imitation because it contributed to Chen Shui-bian victory at the elections. China is deploying its troops in the provinces closest to Taiwan and continues declaring that proclaiming the island independent will be followed by Chinese military intervention. Alexander Mansilia-Kruz