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Tensions May Continue Despite Elections

Cross-Straits tensions may continue despite the surprise defeat of Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian's pro-independence coalition in Saturday's "legislative" elections.

Yesterday leading mainland researchers described the losses for Chen's coalition as a major setback rather than a decisive blow.

"The key issue here is whether Chen will stop his pro-independence push or forge ahead with his separatist timetable after the polls," said Wu Nengyuan, commenting on the losses suffered by Chen's pan-green camp coalition of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union. Wu is director of the Fujian Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Modern Taiwan Studies.

"If he takes more radical steps to challenge the mainland, new tensions will be inflamed across the Straits," said Wu,

The pan-green camp, which had been widely favored to wrest an absolute majority in the 225-seat "legislative yuan," won only 101 seats.

The opposition pan-blue camp led by the Kuomintang (KMT) netted a total of 114 seats, including those awarded to the People First Party and New Party. KMT members who ran as independents garnered two more seats.

Wu said, "Given his obstinate insistence on advocating independence, Chen may intensify his pushing of a separatist timetable."

Senior researcher Li Jiaquan of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Taiwan Studies said that Saturday's poll demonstrates the Taiwanese people's growing dissatisfaction with Chen's pro-independence moves.

(China Daily December 13, 2004)

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