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Taiwan's opposition leader Tsai Ing Wen stepping down.

2012-02-29  darry

Taiwan's opposition leader Tsai Ing Wen stepping down
By Channel NewsAsia's Taiwan Correspondent Victoria Jen | Posted: 28 February 2012 2000 hrs

TAIPEI: Taiwan's opposition leader Tsai Ing Wen is stepping down, following her Democratic Progressive Party's defeat in the presidential elections.

Tsai Ing-wen (AFP File Photo/Sam Yeh)

She will be succeeded by Kaohsiung city mayor Chen Chu as the interim chairwoman until a new leader is elected in May.

Channel NewsAsia finds out what future holds for the pro-independence party.

Liu Shih Chung, Research Fellow at the Taiwan Brain Trust, said: "The selection of Chen Chu is a transitional arrangement, single-handedly pushed forward by Tsai Ing Wen. She wants her approach, her so-called 'Tsai Ing Wen path' to be continued, especially with the generation change of leadership within the DPP."

Despite her defeat in the presidential race, Ms Tsai narrowed the DPP's losing margin to 6 percent.

Her moderate approach with China has won over more neutral voters for the pro-independence party.

And to keep that momentum, analysts say the DPP must refrain from going back to its old anti-China way.

"Whoever wins the DPP chairmanship, I think he or she will continue this path, engaging China, try to have dialogue with China."

So far, former Tainan county magistrate Su Huan-chih and former DPP legislator Chai Trong Rong have thrown their hats into the ring.

Other likely candidates are former premier Su Tseng Chang and Frank Hsieh.

But regardless of who wins the chairmanship, the lack of a China policy acceptable to Beijing remains the biggest hurdle for the party.

Many believe Ms Tsai's rejection of the 1992 Consensus led to her defeat.

Under the consensus, the two sides agree that there's only one-China, but the meaning of one-China is open to different interpretation.

And that has been the basis for cross-strait development for the past four years.

So until the DPP acknowledges the 1992 Consensus, analysts say any attempt to engage Beijing will be in vain.

Wu Yu Shan, Political Science Institute Director of Academia Sinica, said: "The real test is the 1992 Consensus, the one-China principle. I don't see how Beijing and Tsai Ing Wen (and the DPP) can reach a compromise on that. They probably reach a stalemate."

Now if the DPP accepts the 1992 consensus, it may risk losing support from its hardline pro-independence faction. But if it doesn't, the party may never get a chance to make peace with Beijing. So how to strike a balance between the two will be the biggest challenge for its new leader, who will be elected on May 27.

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