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Taiwan presidential front-runner: Can’t ‘be bound’ to China

/ 08:17 PM December 27, 2015
Taiwan's ruling KMT or Nationalist Party 2016 presidential candidate Eric Chu waves before his first televised policy debate with the Democratic Progressive Party's, or DPP, Tsai Ing-wen and People First Party's James Soong in Taipei, Taiwan, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015. Taiwan will hold its general elections on Jan. 16, 2016. AP

Taiwan’s ruling KMT or Nationalist Party 2016 presidential candidate Eric Chu waves before his first televised policy debate with the Democratic Progressive Party’s, or DPP, Tsai Ing-wen and People First Party’s James Soong in Taipei, Taiwan, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015. Taiwan will hold its general elections on Jan. 16, 2016. AP

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The front-runner in Taiwan’s presidential race said Sunday that she’ll seek stable relations with mainland China, but did not rule out revisiting the island’s official stance on independence, leaving open questions about how China would respond to her probable victory in next month’s elections.

Tsai Ing-wen, the opposition leader who has firmly held onto a sizeable lead in polls, used her platform during the first debate to warn against the political rapprochement and deepening economic ties with the mainland brought by the ruling Nationalist Party, or KMT, since 2008 elections.

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“We cannot simply be bound to China,” she said. “That’s what worries us most about the past eight years — the sense that that’s the only choice we have. That’s not good for our economy or our security.”

Against the backdrop of a sputtering economy and rising anti-mainland sentiment, the Jan. 16 elections have been framed by both sides as a referendum on the KMT’s China policy under President Ma Ying-jeou.

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Ma backed — with varying degrees of success — several trade pacts with the mainland during his term and held a historic summit in November with Chinese President Xi Jinping. It was the first such meeting since the Chinese Communist Party defeated the KMT in China’s civil war and established the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

The upcoming election is being closely watched by Washington and Beijing, which considers Taiwan a breakaway province and has threatened to take the island by force if it declares independence. TVJ

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TAGS: China, KMT, Ma Ying-jeou, Nationalist Party, Taiwan, Taiwan elections, Tsai Ing-wen
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