Nationalist candidate Ma Ying-jeou defeated the Democratic Progressive Party candidate Frank Hsieh in Taiwan's election.
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan headed for better relations with mainland China yesterday with the election of the opposition Nationalist Party's candidate as president.
Simultaneously, two referendums calling on the government to work for the island's entry into the United Nations as an independent entity — strongly opposed by Beijing — were defeated.
It was not a close vote. According to the Central Election Commission, Mr. Ma won 58 percent of the vote to Mr. Hsieh's 41.5 percent. Turnout was 76 percent.
While corruption and the economy were significant issues, the vote also signals a turn away from the formal independence from mainland China that had been a plank in the Democratic Progressive Party platform.
Mr. Hsieh's DPP favors formal independence, while Mr. Ma's Nationalist Party wants reunification once China embraces democracy.
As Mr. Chen's independence agenda also has upset Washington, Mr. Ma pledged "not to rock the boat in regional waters," but said he would recommend a China-related defense budget totaling about 3 percent of GDP.
After the vote, Mr. Ma said he would work for better relations with Beijing but would not be a pushover. He is insisting China dismantle the more than 1,000 missiles it has aimed at Taiwanese targets.
Mr. Ma says he favors creating a common economic market with China and opening direct air and shipping links across the Taiwan Strait. He is particularly interested in expanding the China-Taiwan high-tech connection, which every year sends billions of dollars' worth of Taiwan's advanced components to low-cost assembly plants along China's rapidly developing coast.
Perhaps it also signals a growing comfort level among Taiwanese voters with the pace of liberalization in mainland China.