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Taiwanese can be proud of presidential election: U.S. scholar

2012/01/19 15:29:42

New York, Jan. 18 (CNA) The presidential election last week in Taiwan is one that Taiwanese can be proud of and it can have a big impact on mainland China, a U.S. scholar at New York University said Wednesday.

It was an election with minimal reports of vote buying, which shows that Taiwan has the ability to conduct a clean and peaceful poll, said Professor Jerome Cohen at an event sponsored by the National Committee on United States-China Relations.

President Ma won the Jan. 14 election by a margin of nearly 6 percent against his main challenger Tsai Ing-wen of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Cohen said the results showed that the DPP is now back on its feet and Taiwan can move toward party politics.

More importantly, many Chinese were able to follow the Taiwan election via Twitter and other social networks, which can have a big impact on the mainland, he said.

In 2008, only a few Chinese people were able to circumvent their government's firewalls and obtain information about the Taiwan election, Cohen said.

In Taiwan, Ma's recent re-election showed that people are satisfied with his cross-strait policies, said Cohen, who was Ma's mentor during the president's student years at Harvard University.

Cohen said he hopes that during the next four years, the favorable cross-strait climate would result in further agreements or the implementation of agreements that have already been made.

However, he said, it will not be an easy task.

"The easy work was done last term," he said. "This term will be much harder."

However, if Ma continues to work hard to tackle some of the unresolved problems, he could make a great contribution to world peace, the professor said.

Ma "could be nominated for a Nobel Peace prize," Cohen said, adding the that Taiwan Strait is one of the most dangerous places in the world.

It is in the interests of the people to achieve reasonable cross-strait agreements without sacrificing their personal security, he said.

He mentioned the possibility of more practical economic cooperation, further development of the natural resources in the South China Sea and greater protection of the Taiwan people.

(By Leaf Chiang and Lilian Wu)
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