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Closer ties for Taiwan and China?
Ma Ying-jeou won Taiwan's presidential election thanks to his promise to ease tensions with China, said Keith Bradsher in the International Herald Tribune, but his calls for Beijing to improve its human rights record might make that difficult. Ma displaye
 

W

hat happened
Taiwanese stocks rose Monday on hopes of improved relations with China after Nationalist Party candidate Ma Ying-jeou won Taiwan’s presidential election. (Reuters)

What the commentators said
Ma’s victory is no guarantee of closer ties with the mainland, said Keith Bradsher in the International Herald Tribune. His promise to ease tensions raised high expectations during the campaign, but he “will need all his energy and discipline as president” to follow through. Ma isn’t giving Beijing a free pass on “human rights abuses and support the Dalai Lama's calls for Tibetan autonomy,” and as long as he continues to castigate Chinese leaders the potential for strife will remain strong.

Taiwan has shown China how to run a country properly, said The Christian Science Monitor in an editorial. Ma’s “once authoritarian” Nationalist Party ran Taiwan unchallenged for nearly 40 years after the anti-communists fled the mainland, then lost the presidency in 2000. That was the cost of “allowing democracy,” but now the party is back, showing “the world—and especially China—how a people can collectively correct their leaders through ballots instead of bullets.”

The real challenge for the “soft-spoken” Ma will be asserting control over “a party, full of political thugs,” said The Economist in an analysis. “Here he may struggle. Preferring the company of scholars and a family life rich in women (mother, wife, four sisters and two daughters) but no men,” Ma isn’t “cut out for strong-arming." He has shown “voters his gentle, conciliatory side,” but now “to succeed within his own party, let alone stand up to future Chinese bullying, he will need to show his grit.”
 

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