“Once again, Taiwan has demonstrated the strength and vitality of its democracy. I also congratulate Mr. Ma Ying-jeou on his victory,” Bush said in a statement, calling Taiwan “a beacon of democracy to Asia and the world.”
“It falls to Taiwan andto build the essential foundations for peace and stability by pursuing dialogue through all available means and refraining from unilateral steps that would alter the cross-Strait situation,” he said.
“I believe the election provides a fresh opportunity for both sides to reach out and engage one another in peacefully resolving their differences,”
Opposition wins Taiwan election
By Peter Enav
March 22, 2008
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan’s opposition candidate cruised to victory in the presidential election Saturday, promising to expand economic ties with China while protecting the island from being swallowed up politically by its giant communist neighbor.
Fireworks lit up the sky over Ma Ying-jeou’s headquarters, and cheering supporters put up victory posters before the former Taipei mayor climbed on stage and declared victory.
“People want a clean a government instead of a corrupt one,” said Ma, also a former justice minister. “They want a good economy, not a sluggish one. They don’t want political feuding. They want peace across the Taiwan Strait. No war.”
Across town, a crying crowd gathered at the campaign office for ruling party candidate Frank Hsieh, a former premier.
“Don’t cry for me today,” Hsieh said in his concession speech. “Although we lost the election, we have a more important mission. The torch of democracy should not be extinguished.”
Ma won 58 percent of the votes compared to 41.5 percent for his challenger, according to the Central Election Commission. Turnout was 76 percent, the commission said.
Ma and Hsieh have both said they want a less confrontational relationship with China. But they were divided on how best to deal with Beijing, which presents both a huge opportunity for the island’s powerful business community and a looming threat to its evolving democracy.
Taiwan and the mainland split amid civil war in 1949, but China still considers the island to be part of its territory. Beijing has threatened to attack if Taiwan rejects unification and seeks a permanent break.