The opposition candidate in Taiwan has easily won the island's presidential election while voters overwhelmingly rejected two referendums on Taiwan joining the United Nations.

Opposition Nationalist Party candidate Ma Ying-jeou, a Harvard-educated lawyer and former mayor of Taipei, won Taiwan's presidential election, with 58 percent of the vote.

He ran on a platform of improving ties with Beijing including a possible peace treaty with the mainland.

Beijing and Washington both reacted quickly to election results in Taiwan Saturday.

In Washington, President George W. Bush said the election provides a "fresh opportunity" for the two sides to peacefully engage each other.

Taiwanese voters also rejected two referendums on Taiwan joining the United Nations.  Both failed because they failed to draw the legally required voter turnout.

In Beijing, Chinese state run media said the failure of the referendums showed the idea of Taiwan independence does not have popular support.

Mr. Ma told supporters outside his headquarters in Taipei, voters had demanded change, a stronger economy and peace across the Taiwan Strait.

He will replace Chen Shui-bian, who has served the maximum two terms.  Mr. Chen was widely seen as pushing the island toward independence, and Beijing refused to talk to him during his eight years in office.

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