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Sunday, 19 March, 2000, 20:23 GMT
Clashes follow Taiwan election
An injured protester is led away during the demonstration in Taipei
An injured protester is led away from demonstration
Police in Taiwan have used water cannon and baton charges to contain angry protests by supporters of the Nationalist Party, following the defeat of their candidate in Saturday's presidential election.

One senior party official, Hsu Li-teh, was dragged out of his car, wrestled to the ground and beaten with fists and sticks.

The demonstrators, who had earlier thrown stones at other cars carrying party officials, were demanding the immediate resignation of outgoing president, Lee Teng-hui, as party chairman.
Police guard the home of outgoing president Lee Teng-hui
Police guard the home of outgoing president Lee Teng-hui
Several people were injured during the disturbances outside the party headquarters in Taipei, as an urgent meeting was held inside the building to decide how to respond to Vice President Lien Chan's defeat at the hands of opposition leader Chen Shui-bian.

Lee Teng-hui refused to step down immediately, but said he would quit in September and take the rest of the party leadership with him.

The election result has brought an abrupt end to the Nationalist Party's unbroken half-century in power, which began when its leaders fled mainland China in 1949 at the end of a civil war.

A BBC correspondent in Taipei says many people are struggling to make sense of the change. She says it is a time of excitement, but also of uncertainty.

Pro-independnce

The party led by Chen Shui-bian has advocated Taiwanese independence and, speaking after his victory, he again rejected as unacceptable China's "one country, two systems" formula for reunification.

Mr Chen said Taiwan would not follow in the steps of Hong Kong and Macau.
At the same time, he insisted that he wanted to build a constructive dialogue with Beijing, which regards Taiwan as a renegade province.

During the election campaign, China threatened military action if the Taiwanese electorate gave their backing to Mr Chen.

But the Taiwanese people defied those threats, giving him victory over Lien Chan of the Nationalist Party and an independent candidate, James Soong.

Mr Soong, who came second in the poll, has added to the crisis in the Nationalist Party by announcing plans to form a new political party.

It is expected to draw support from disgruntled former Nationalists, who accuse its leadership of inefficiency and corruption.

Muted reaction

In its first reaction to the result, Beijing said it was willing to talk, but only with those advocating the one-China principle.

The state of alert continues, and it is not clear when it will be lifted.

Taiwan defence spokesman
It said it would wait to see how Mr Chen handled relations, but insisted the election result would not change the status of Taiwan "as a part of China".

US President Bill Clinton has congratulated Mr Chen and called for a renewal of dialogue between China and Taiwan.

In the run-up to the election, Mr Chen did soften his position on independence, saying he would put the issue to a referendum only if China attacked.

But on Sunday, he avoided any specific mention of relations with mainland China, spending most of his time thanking the gods and his supporters for his victory.

The Taiwan military has said the alert declared on the eve of the election will continue indefinitely.

"The new president was just elected," said a defence spokesman. "The state of alert continues, and it is not clear when it will be lifted. That will be contingent on future developments."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jill McGivering in Taipei
"This election victory has destroyed Taiwan's old political landscape"
The BBC's Matt Frei in Taipei
"Taiwanese politics have become far more volatile and unpredictable since yesterday's election"
See also:

19 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
19 Mar 00 | Business
19 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
19 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
19 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
18 Mar 00 | Taiwan Election
18 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
18 Mar 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
18 Mar 00 | Media reports
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