A quick round up of some of the articles published in the last few days on the upcoming legislative elections:
Ralph Jennings of The Guardian has a piece on the centrality of improved economic relations from China in the upcoming election. My favorite parts:
Such sentiment could play a major role in legislative elections on Saturday and in the March 22 presidential race, which could help shape the future of ties with China.
Political issues involving Taiwan's often tense relations with China have dominated previous campaigns, but those matters will be less dominant this time, said Joseph Cheng, a political science professor at City University of Hong Kong.
"These issues will be less successful now because people are a little bit tired of it," he said. "Undecided voters especially believe the most pressing issue to be reviving the economy and the employment situation." ...
"Taiwan has a chance of shaking off its label as among the region's least productive governments in 2008," Standard & Poor's credit analyst Kim Eng Tan said in a news release.
But Tan said if legislative and presidential elections yield another split government it may result in more policy paralysis.
Next, an International Herald-Tribune piece by Yun-han Chu and Andrew J. Nathan. It focuses on the so-called moderate positions of both Ma and Hsieh on cross strait policy. Of course, such an interpretation requires ignoring certain statements on soverignty. Most interesting passage:
Both of the two major-party presidential candidates are moderates on cross-strait relations. Frank Hsieh (Hsieh Ch'ang-t'ing) is the candidate of the traditionally pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party. Although he would like Taiwan to be independent, he believes that China is too strong, U.S. support is too uncertain, and Taiwan's economic interests are too tied to the mainland to make a bid for independence realistic. He asserts that Taiwan "cannot avoid mainland influence. We must understand their nationalism, must dialogue and communicate. We cannot realize our hopes while having very tense relations with the mainland."
The candidate of the traditionally pro-unification Kuomintang (KMT) is the former Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou. Ma would endorse Beijing's One China Principle to get negotiations started, but only if Beijing and Taipei can each interpret this principle in its own way, the two sides agree not to use force, and final-status issues are shelved for 30 to 50 years. Ma hopes the mainland might eventually be willing to accept a Chinese confederation with the Republic of China as a member.
OK, the Wall Street Journal has a rather wide-ranging piece by Perris Lee Choon Siong that covers the current "tensions," the discontent with Chen and the economy, the impact the election could have on the presidential elections, the new voting system and recent corruption scandals. Not too much stood out to me, but here's something:
A Jan. 1 poll conducted by the TVBS, a Taiwan television station, indicated that the Kuomintang could win 75 seats Saturday, with just 31 for Mr. Chen's DPP and the other seven shared by three smaller parties. Currently, the DPP holds the most seats of any single party, although the Kuomintang narrowly controls the legislature through alliances with smaller parties.
Taiwan polls have underestimated DPP support in the past, and analysts say it is possible for the Kuomintang to win big Saturday and still lose in March.
Next, a more interesting piece in the Vancouver Sun, this one by Jonathan Manthorpe. Interesting for it's ability to present some very different perspectives through the eyes of the various parties -- the KMT, DPP and CCP.
A particular worry for the Chinese authorities is that the island nation of Taiwan, to which Beijing lays claim, would seek to affirm its de facto independence in 2008 at a time when it is politically impossible for Beijing to launch an invasion....
The period when Beijing has foreseen that the administration of Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) might invoke their strongly held belief in the islanders' right to self-determination is now upon us....
The island's official name is The Republic of China, a relic of the aftermath of the Second World War when the KMT government of China was defeated by the Communists in a civil war and fled to the island, where it established a military dictatorship that survived until 20 years ago....
The Washington administration of President George W. Bush, which usually claims to support democracies and which is duty-bound by domestic legislation to aid Taiwan if it is attacked [A-gu: not true, of course], has been seduced by this strange logic [that it is the Taipei government's drive for internationally recognized independence, rather than China's pledge to invade the island, that is the major threat to security in the region].
Well, there you have it. In just two days, we'll have our result ...