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China: Taiwan Elections Won't Effect Relations - 2001-12-03

China says it does not expect relations with Taiwan to worsen significantly, despite the election victory Saturday by Taiwan's pro-independence party. China is not backing down from a key demand that Taiwan accept that it is a part of the mainland.

The state-run China Daily newspaper says the election victory for Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) may strengthen pro-independence forces on the island. But it says Beijing expects no dramatic change in its relations with Taiwan.

The article is China's first official reaction to the victory of President Chen Shui-bian's party Saturday. It adds Beijing will continue to insist that Taiwan accept its one-China principle, which states that Taiwan and the mainland are part of the same country.

Experts on cross-Strait relations say China's muted response reflects Beijing's belief that economic and cultural ties with Taiwan will increasingly bring the two sides closer to reunification.

Liu Guoshen, a professor at the Taiwan Research Institute of Xiamen University, says "the legislative election results will not have a direct effect on cross-Strait relations. The vote primarily is a re-aligning of domestic political forces in Taiwan."

The Democratic Progressive Party won 87 seats in the election, making it the biggest party in Taiwan's 225-seat legislature. The DPP delivered a heavy blow to the Kuomintang Party, which was left with just 68 seats.

Since Mr. Chen's presidential victory a year and a half ago, Beijing has refused to hold direct talks with members of his pro-independence party. It has, however, welcomed unofficial visits by opposition Kuomintang politicians, who favor eventual union with China.

"A DPP victory does not necessarily mean worsening cross-Strait relations in the future," said Mr. Liu. "Now that it has more political control in Taiwan, the DPP may be more confident in handling relations with Beijing, and may introduce more policies to foster trade with the mainland."

Mr. Liu says "flourishing people-to-people relations across the Taiwan Strait are more important than direct political dialogue."

Taiwan's top official on relations with China said Sunday that President Chen will continue to ease decades-long barriers to business ties with the mainland.