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China Accepts Chen's Win But Will Watch Closely

By Cindy Sui

BEIJING, March 18 –– China accepted the victory of a pro-independence candidate in Taiwan's presidential race tonight, but said it will watch closely Chen Shui-bian's actions "and where he will lead cross-strait relations."

"We should listen to what the new leader in Taiwan says and watch what he does," said a statement issued by the government's Taiwan Affairs Office, which also reiterated Beijing's stance that the election "will not change the status of Taiwan as a part of China."

Chen, of the Democratic Progressive Party, defeated Nationalist Vice President Lien Chan and populist independent James Soong with 39 percent of the vote as Taiwanese voters brushed aside Beijing's threats that it might attack the island if Chen was elected.

Chen had irked China by openly advocating independence for Taiwan, which Beijing has long considered a renegade province. China's Nationalists retreated to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war to Mao Zedong's Communists.

China indicated today that it would not tolerate any move by Chen to push for sovereignty, saying, "Taiwan independence in whatever form will never be allowed." But Beijing left open a door for dialogue.

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