New Taiwanese President Sees Long Road in China Relations

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- An end to the more than half a century of hostility and tension between Taiwan and China may be in the offing with the election of a more China-friendly president for the island, but progress will be slow and tortuous.

The opposition Nationalist Party's Ma Ying-jeou won in a landslide on Saturday against an opponent who had tried to use recent bloody protests in Tibet to scare people into not voting for Ma.

The Democratic Progressive Party's Frank Hsieh said Taiwan risked becoming another Tibet if Ma, with his more pro-China views, won.

Though that strategy backfired, Ma now has to try and reach out to China, but without being seen to compromise Taiwan's security.

"They [China] remain the greatest security threat," Ma told a news conference on Sunday. "Taiwan's identity has to be respected, and we have to negotiate with each other on equal footing.

"What I can promise voters is that we will not negotiate the issue of unification and we will not support de jure independence," he added, speaking in fluent English. "And we will oppose the use of force across the Taiwan Strait."

But Ma said he would not consider talking peace with China, which claims the self-ruled island as its own, until Beijing removes missiles aimed at Taiwan.

The two sides have been run separately since 1949, when defeated Nationalist forces fled to Taiwan at the end of a civil war.

"Voters hope that Ma will help cross-Strait relations to return to normal and that both sides can see a win-win solution," said Jeff Lin, associate dean at National Taiwan University.