Saturday, March 20, 2004

We live in interesting times in Taiwan. As I walked out of my apartment this evening to buy some tea, all the TVs in earshot were tuned to a speech given by Lien Chan, telling his supporters that he will call for an annulment of the election results. The pro-KMT China Post newspaper in Taiwan has an article up on its website about Lien's speech, and I imagine if this issue isn't settled before the May 20 inauguration, most of the beginning of Chen's second term will be concerned with whether or not yesterday's assassination attempt was real or not. (The preceding link is to a article about Lien's call for a recount.) The pro-DPP paper The Taipei Times also has an article up about this situation.

I'm not going to say what I think about whether the assassination attempt on Chen was real or faked. Political theater, on the one hand, has been part of the DPP's toolbox for a long time. On the other hand, assassination and murder have been part of the KMT's toolbox for a longer time. (So far no one in public has accused the KMT of attempting to kill Chen, I should add.) But this whole situation--especially Lien's call for a nullification of the vote--can contribute to quite a bit of instability in Taiwan in the next few weeks.

CNN has Mike Chinoy on right now (about 9:10 p.m. local time), who is trying to analyze this situation. Chinoy says that a senior DPP advisor told him that Lien's language might incite violence. Chinoy calls this "uncharted and potentially dangerous territory."

So far the people in my apartment building and around my neighborhood seem to be glued to their TVs and relatively quiet. By now the firecrackers that were being set off by the local DPP office nearby on Chong-De Road are mostly quiet. The election commission is on TV now declaring Chen the winner. There was 80% turnout in this election. The head of the commission is saying that the committee is not aware of the details of Lien's demand. "There are certain procedures that need to be followed," he says. We'll see what happens tomorrow...?

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