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Last Updated: Friday, 7 November, 2003, 08:09 GMT
Taiwan's Chen seeks re-election
By Chris Hogg
BBC, Hong Kong

Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian has made a formal declaration of his intent to seek re-election in March next year.

In a move certain to provoke anger in Beijing, the president made clear his belief that Taiwan and China are "one country on each side" of the Taiwan Straits.

Taiwan flag
Mr Chen has rejected Beijing's 'one-China' principle
China has always warned it would attack the island if it declares independence or drags its feet over reunification.

President Chen has signalled his intention to make the debate over whether or not Taiwan should declare independence the main issue of this election campaign.

But rejecting Beijing's so-called "one China" principle in his first set of election policy documents is a risky move.

It will annoy the Chinese leadership, which sees Taiwan as little more than a breakaway province which should be reunified with the mainland.

It could also alienate the majority of voters on the island who, opinion polls suggest, prefer the ambiguous status quo.

Analysts point out, though, the president knows he faces a struggle to get himself re-elected.

He may believe that provoking an angry response in Beijing could help his chances.

His rival, the opposition nationalist candidate, Lien Chan, has said Taiwan and China should pursue parallel paths without making a decision on unification or independence.

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