This drubbing foreshadows disaster for Chen's DPP in the elections of March 22, which will vote both on Chen's successor as president and on the referendum. Recognizing the disaster that has already occurred as well as the one to come, Chen (whose second and final term as president is expiring) has resigned as party chairman to take responsibility for the defeat. The DPP's candidate to succeed him, Frank Hsieh, is expected to play down the issue. But if the Kuomintang defeats Hsieh and the referendum, and elects its candidate, Ma Ying-jeou, as Taiwan's new president, the United States will have a loyal and dependable friend in that key position.
The biggest winners, however, will be the people of Taiwan. They will continue to enjoy their de facto independence and the island's famous prosperity, without unnecessarily insulting their large and dangerous neighbor across the Strait of Formosa. And they will continue to have an indispensable friend and ally in the United States of America.
William Rusher is a Distinguished Fellow of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy and author of How to Win Arguments .
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