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February 2002 issue of
World Press Review
(VOL. 49, No. 2)
Taking Down Goliath
The way things
are going for Taiwans Kuomingtang (KMT) or Nationalist
Party, which once reigned uncontested on the island, it seems
political obsolescence may be just around the corner. The party,
whose main platform is reunification with China, suffered a
humiliating defeat in the Dec. 1 parliamentary election, losing
its majority for the first time in history. Its rival, the pro-independence
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), led by President Chen Shui-bian,
walked away with 87 of the 225 parliamentary seats, making it
the largest party in parliament.
DPP Chairman Frank Hsieh told the Taipei Central News Agency
(Dec. 1), [T]he nation has taken another stride toward
becoming a mature democracy.
There are numerous reasons for the KMTs fall from grace,
according to Taiwan political observers. Since its defeat in
last years presidential election, the KMT has been blamed
for spitefully obstructing the legislature and trying to impeach
the president, all of which exacerbated Taiwans already
flailing economy. The party is also accused of black-gold
corruptionpolitics involving organized crime.
Across the strait, Beijing, which still considers Taiwan a renegade
province, reacted to the election with a mixture of denial and
ire. In its first official response, China dismissed the election
results, saying that most people in Taiwan still favor closer
ties with the mainland. Wen Wei Po wrote on Dec. 2, If
the DPP concludes from this election that it can resist mainland
China and win public confidence..., [it would be] misjudging
future cross-strait developments.
But Beijing may have no reason for alarm: Although Taiwans
political allegiance may not lie with China, its economic future
does. It is estimated that Taiwanese investments in China have
already reached US$60 billion. But pro-independence commentators
fear that the policy of aggressive investment in China is endangering
Taiwans domestic economy. Liberty Times (Dec. 13)
opined, Taiwans level of dependence on Chinas
economy has already crossed a dangerous line.