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Taiwan's Vice President Enters Presidential Race


Taiwan's outspoken vice president, Annette Lu, has announced she will campaign to become the island's first female president. But analysts think her chances of winning next year's election are slim and doubt whether her party will support her. Claudia Blume reports from VOA's Asia News Center in Hong Kong.

Annette Lu announced her bid to run for president in the 2008 elections in Taiwan's capital Taipei on Tuesday.

Speaking at a news conference, Lu said Taiwan needs a good helmsman who has a correct view of history and a good sense of direction.

The outspoken vice president, who has repeatedly angered Beijing with her support for Taiwan's independence, pledged to cooperate with China and said she supported 'constructive engagement' with Beijing.

Lu said that the historical feud between the nationalists and communists should come to an end. She said there should be no hatred between Taiwan and China and that there should be no war.

But she did not budge from her view that Taiwan is an independent nation and not part of China.

China and Taiwan split in 1949 after a civil war. Beijing still considers Taiwan a renegade province, and has threatened to use force against the island if it formally declares independence.

Annette Lu, vice president since 2000, is an ardent feminist and former democracy and rights activist who spent more than five years in jail when Taiwan was under martial law. Her Democratic Progressive Party or DPP will decide in May whether to nominate Lu or one of three other contenders for president.

Philip Yang is a political scientist at National Taiwan University. He thinks it is unlikely Lu will win her party's primary, as she does not have a strong power base within the DPP.

"She is more or less like a fighting on her own and even though as a national figure and even though as a vice president for a long time [but] she doesn't really have any allies or factions supporting her - it will be relatively more difficult," said Yang.

The DPP's other declared candidates are premier Su Tseng-chang, party chairman Yu Shyi-kun and former premier Frank Hsieh.

In the presidential elections, the DPP nominee will run against the leader of the opposition nationalist party, former Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou. Despite being charged with corruption, he has enthusiastic support from his party, the Kuomintang or KMT.

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