Taiwan's opposition emboldened by vote
Taiwan's main opposition Nationalist Party, reinvigorated after an election
victory, offered Wednesday to help the pro-independence president, Chen Shui-bian,
break a stalemate in relations with rival China.
The offer came after China gave a measured response to Taiwan's legislative vote - in which the independence-leaning governing party suffered a surprise defeat - but warned that Chen's push for formal independence would exacerbate tensions.
The nationalist leader, Lien Chan, who favors closer ties with China, called for talks with Chen's Democratic Progressive Party on finding a formula for peace acceptable to both Taipei and Beijing.
"The DPP, with its de-Sinification measures and Taiwan independence ideology, is unable to resolve and improve relations between the two sides," Lien told a party meeting.
"Now that a majority in Parliament has emerged, we should seize the opportunity to show our capability and strength to promote cross-Strait relations," said Lien, whose party ruled Taiwan for more than 50 years after losing a civil war in China.
His comments came a day after Chen stepped down as his party's chairman to take the blame for the election defeat. A Nationalist-led opposition had won 51 percent of the chamber's 225 seats against the Democratic Progressive Party bloc's 45 percent.
"Seeking peace, stability and development is still the mainstream popular will in Taiwan society," Li Weiyi, spokesman for the policy-making Taiwan Affairs Office, said in China's first official reaction to the elections.
He warned that Chen's push for formal independence would exacerbate tensions.
Chen had turned the campaign into a debate on the issue of Taiwan's identity. China claims that the self-ruled, democratic island is part of its territory to be brought back to the fold, by force if necessary.
Many security analysts see the Taiwan Strait as one of the most dangerous flashpoints in Asia. Chen said China had more than 600 missiles pointed at Taiwan. Asked if the election results would ease tensions, Chinese officials said it would hinge on the future stand of Taiwan authorities and whether they halt their push for statehood.