TAIPEI | Taiwan’s outgoing vice president, Annette Lu, speaking ahead of the presidential elections tomorrow, said the main contribution of President Chen Shui-bian's administration over the past eight years was a strengthening of national identity.
“After eight years, more than 70 percent take it for granted that we are Taiwanese,” she said in an interview. “We built up a national identity and that was not easy.”
In the last public opinion poll, conducted 11 days ago and before images of China’s crackdown in Tibet flooded Taiwan’s airways, Nationalist Party candidate Ma Ying-jeou had a 20- percentage-point lead over DPP candidate Frank Hsieh.
Ms. Lu conceded that the parliamentary elections were a big setback for her party.
Richard Bush, director of the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution, said the results were partly driven by people’s dissatisfaction with the DPP, which has failed to invigorate Taiwan’s weakening economy and has seen several scandals.
Beijing, which has some 1,000 missiles aimed at Taiwan, views the island as a renegade province and hopes to reunite it with the mainland one day.
The Chen administration tends to view economic ties with suspicion. It imposed limits on certain Chinese investments like semiconductor manufacturing and opposes Chinese investment in Taiwanese companies.
“That makes it obvious that there’s an opportunity after this election because both candidates are advocating more economic and social opening with China,” he said.
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