(corrected version)

The head of Taiwan's ruling party says he will step down after his overwhelming loss in last Saturday's presidential elections.

Democratic Progressive Party chief Frank Hsieh announced his resignation Wednesday during a meeting of senior party officials in Taipei. He called his defeat by Nationalist Party candidate Ma Ying-jeou a personal setback.

Hsieh lost to Ma by 17 percentage points in Saturday's poll. His loss is the second major electoral setback for the DPP this year. The party lost January's legislative elections to the Nationalists.

Ma campaigned on a platform of better ties with mainland China. *

Taiwan and China split during a civil war in 1949. Beijing considers the self-ruled island part of its own territory, and has threatened to attack if it makes moves toward formal independence.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

* Edited 27 March 2008, to remove an incorrect statement that the Nationalist party supports independence for the island.  It does not.