Taiwan and China

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The headline for Taiwan’s elections could have read: “Little Dragon Chooses Own Way in Year of Dragon while Big Dragon Fumes.”

On Saturday Taiwan, one of the original “little dragon” economies of the Pacific Rim, voted Chen Shway Bien for president, ending half a century of single party rule and moved closer to a declaration of independence.

Although a hundred-thousand Taiwanese stormed the streets to celebrate the decision, Taiwan made its choice under threatening clouds from mainland China, the original imperial dragon which still considers Taiwan a prodigal province.

Before the election Beijing indicated that a vote for Independence rhetoric of Chen was a vote for war. Taiwan has maintained a special relationship with mainland China for over 50 years and Beijing has tolerated the island nation’s quasi-independence so long as Taiwan didn’t seek official recognition as a sovereign state.

China is standing down from its threats for now, but tensions are still high across the Taiwan Straits.

But the Year of the Dragon, which began last month, stands for more that bravery and leadership; it also brings good fortune. Democracy, diatribe and dragons – in this hour.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)