October 3, 2005


A New Face for Taiwanese Nationalists
: Opposition party leader is a foe of corruption and speaks of China almost as a friend. (Mark Magnier, October 3, 2005, LA Times)

Taiwan's opposition Nationalist Party, labeled sclerotic, corrupt and a dinosaur, is showing signs of a pulse thanks to new Chairman Ma Ying-jeou.

The charismatic, Harvard-educated Taipei mayor has a down-to-earth approach to party politics, a startling shift for Nationalists who ruled Taiwan with an iron fist for decades and never quite found their footing under democracy.

But Ma faces the challenge of winning over the island's electorate in advance of an expected presidential run in 2008. Whether he succeeds will have a bearing on cross-strait relations, Taiwan's young democracy and the island's relationship with the United States, analysts say. [...]

Ma's birthplace, Hong Kong, may also be a liability. Taiwan's electorate has increasingly identified itself as Taiwanese rather than Chinese, with every president elected since democracy dawned in the late 1980s born on the island.

Bridging this divide and attracting the political center may require fancy footwork. Ma favors eventual reunification with China but can't afford to look like he's in Beijing's pocket, particularly with an estimated 700 Chinese missiles aimed at Taiwan.

"Ma views the future of Taiwan from a Chinese perspective," presidential office Secretary-General Yu Shyi-kun charged recently. "Ma fails to put Taiwan first."

They're never going to be reunited.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 3, 2005 8:37 AM

Sure they will. The Nationalists will eventually take power in Peking.

Posted by: Greg Hlatky at October 3, 2005 8:45 AM

Greg: stick to topics you know at least a drop in the ocean about.

OJ - you're right; they cannot ever be "re"-united. Two entities that were never one cannot be re-united.

Re: wording it, "They will never be united," I agree. But Taiwan may end up being destroyed instead. Betrayed, they certainly will be, from within, by the 15 percent of the population that thinks like Ma. I hope that we stay close and don't let them down. I hope China collapses into civil unrest first (and does not successfully drag Taiwan into it.) Taiwan is the only America-class country in the region. It is the Poland of East Asia. It's people are magnificent.

Posted by: Geo at October 3, 2005 12:47 PM

Taiwan would win a war.

Posted by: oj at October 3, 2005 1:38 PM

Mr. Judd;

That's likely to be a very Pyrrhic victory for Taiwan.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at October 3, 2005 2:30 PM


Posted by: oj at October 3, 2005 2:33 PM

Massive destruction, loss of life, cleanup costs, etc. As it turns out, war is almost always very expensive and damaging to the local environment, especially when your opponent is not the USA or Israel. I can give you some historical references if you like (e.g., the UK post 1945 or France post 1918).

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at October 3, 2005 4:55 PM