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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Pro-China opposition wins Taiwan presidential election

RIA Novosti

22/03/2008 15:48 BEIJING, March 22 (RIA Novosti) - Taiwan's opposition candidate, who favors closer economic ties and eventual reunification with China, won a clear victory in Saturday's presidential election according to a partial vote count.

Ma Ying-jeou of the Nationalist Party garnered more than half of votes, according to the Central Election Commission of the self-governed island, which China considers to be part of its territory. The official results will be released at 9:30 p.m. Taipei time (13:30 GMT).

Ma's rival, Frank Hsieh of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, had also spoken for better relations and economic links with China, but was set to continue the pro-independence drive of outgoing leader Chen Shui-bian.

A referendum on whether Taiwan should seek United Nations membership was held alongside the election, but voter numbers were insufficient to make the referendum valid.

The referendum was resoundingly condemned by Beijing, which has not ruled out military action to prevent the province from breaking permanently from the mainland. Russia and several Western powers also criticized the referendum, fearing it could lead to an escalation of tensions with China.

Taiwan split from China following the 1949 Civil War. However, since 1971, few countries have recognized the province as a sovereign state. Currently 23 states maintain formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Around 13 million of Taiwan's 17 million eligible voters took part in the election.



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