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Introduction On Saturday March 18 2000 voters will go to 13457 ballot booths in the free area of the Republic of China that is Taiwan Four years after their democratic presidential election and with their islands future still uncertain voters in Taiwan will be choosing a successor to current leader Lee Teng-hui The five presidential candidates are independent James Soong the Kuomintangs KMT Lien Chang the New Partys Lee Ao independent Hsu Hsin-liang and the Democratic Progressive Partys DPP Chen Shui-bian Fig1 But as Taiwans people prepare to choose only their second popularly elected president and perhaps transfer Taiwans leadership to a new party for the first time in 51 years The three leading candidates Lien Chan Chen Shui-bian and James Soong have been subdues their rhetoric mild and the tone tentative and cautious The reason is China 90 miles away across the Taiwan Strait Fig 2 When the communists took control of China in 1949 the Nationalists under Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan where they established the Republic of China as a government in exile and imposed martial law China has considered Taiwan a renegade province ever since and has threatened to use force to bring about reunification Four years ago as Taiwan prepared for its first-ever direct presidential election China rattled its tiny neighborand brought US warships to the sceneby conducting missile tests in the Taiwan Strait On February 21 2000 less than a month before Taiwans election on March 18 the Chinese struck again This time they announced that foot-dragging on reunification had been added tot he list of thingsinternational meddling or a declaration of independence are the othersthat would trigger an attack on Taiwan There are other issues in this years election including corruption and election including corruption and campaign finance reform but the issue known as cross-strait relation is far and away the most important History of Political Parties in Taiwan
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