Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian has told the BBC that the "turmoil" that has followed his disputed re-election will soon be over.
Mr Chen was re-elected by only 0.2% of the vote, a day after surviving an apparent assassination attempt.
His rival, opposition leader Lien Chan, has called for the vote to be invalidated and ballots recounted.
Have you been involved in the protests? Would a recount solve the problem? Is the governing party right to accuse their opponents of wanting social chaos instead of a recount?
This debate is now closed.
It's very depressing with all this negative news. Taiwan is in a mess. Two parties should learn how to tolerant and unselfish. The politicians should think about Taiwan's future instead of fighting in our own country. Let everything go the legitimate way and the facts will appear!
Sara, Taipei, Taiwan
I would like President Chen to be elected, because Taiwan and China are close but different. Most overseas Taiwanese don't want to mix Taiwanese and mainland Chinese up. We both are Chinese, but of different countries.
Ming, Cambridge, UK
I don't think the protest is right, but the DPP also should accept the request of a recount if they want to prove their election was fair and impartial. I don't support any of them, but politicians should take the responsibility to calm people down and clear matters as soon as possible so that people in Taiwan can go back to their normal lives.
Richie Huang, Taoyuan, Taiwan
I am very furious about the prolonged protest, causing great turmoil and uncertainty. Mr Lien mobilises people to achieve his own political goal. Actually, the election couldn't have been more transparent, for each voting area was monitored by both sides, impossible for vote-rigging.
Berlinda, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
I've just returned from a trip to Taipei, where on Thursday I went down to walk amid the demonstrators to find out more about their issues. I was so impressed by how orderly and peaceful the whole thing was. If it wasn't for the few English speakers who tried to convince me of their conspiracy theories or just plain disappointment, I would have simply thought this was a carnival. The flags, balloons, music, and food stalls made for a friendly environment, with the leading campaigners urging their followers to show on the world stage how to make a powerful stand without violence. Please Taiwan, prove this is possible!
Dan, Birmingham, UK
There is absolutely no evidence that the so-called "shooting incident" was anything but that. Yet people demand that Chen explain his own shooting and near killing! What you are seeing now is the KMT attempting to steal an election that they lost, fair and square. History repeats itself, and even a cursory examination of the histories of the KMT and DPP will show where the doubts and questions truly lie.
John Burns, Taipei
I'm in the protest rally this afternoon on the boulevard before the presidential palace. I'm there to support truth, because Taiwanese people deserve a better and clearer answer to the shooting incident.
Tim Wang, Taipei, Taiwan
In Taiwan we're glad that nearly 500,000 people have participated in today's protest rally. Most of the people here just want to know the truth about the suspicious shooting and are opposed to this unfair election.
I was in the protest simply because I demand a recount. I don't trust Chen and the outcome of the election, especially when there was only a 20,000+ votes difference.
However, I'm not a Lien supporter.
All I ask for is the integrity of Taiwan's leader. That's the reason why I was on the square.
Lea, Taipei, Taiwan
This is the first time that I went on the streets to join the rally. I did it this afternoon for calling on and supporting Mr Lien's demand for vote-recounting. Only when all votes are recounted will people will think there is no irregularity.
I am Taiwanese. I think the presidential election this time was fair. Lien Chan's Kuomintang party thinks it's unfair because he and his partner lost power and couldn't accept the fact. So, they bring their supporters to the streets during the days after the election trying to win back an unchangeable result. I think the people of Taiwan voted for their president on March 20.
There are too many unsolved doubts and unanswered questions need to be resolved immediately! For instance, we still have not been given a true explanation of the 19th March shooting incident and still no-one has been arrested. Some supporters believe the shooting was staged to steer a sympathy vote toward Chen. Its impact on the presidential election is clear, direct and across the board.
We know our rights, and we deserve the truth and answers!
Andrew Lee, Taipei
I feel sad for the Taiwanese people that have for so long been suppressed by different colonial masters (mainland Chinese, Japanese etc). Being brought up in a free western democratic country, it feels so obvious that the Taiwanese themselves should have all the decisive power if they want to declare themselves as a free and independent country. For all Taiwanese: continue fighting for your rights, do not back down to PRC threats or KMT's distortion of history and educational facts.
Jiro, Gothenburg, Sweden
All through history, India and Pakistan were one. But with political differences, they split apart. Taiwan is a democratic country. Chen Shui-bian should split apart from the mainland and declare it self as a democratic country. With heavy military assistance from United States, they shouldn't fear a war. Go Chen.
Anil G, India
Absolutely wouldn't affect the results. Taiwanese people are mature enough to face to any unexpected events. Everyone should be calm and accept everything. Show the real respects. Regarding to the referendum, it was the first time in Taiwan. Lots of people didn't really understand the meanings, but we are sure that we all love Taiwan.
Claire, Taipei, Taiwan
God bless Taiwan!
Francis, Hong Kong
Living in the north of Taiwan, I was convinced that the Chinese Nationalist Party and its pan-blue allies would win easily. Even my DPP friends seemed resigned to defeat. Chen means that China will have to deal realistically with the true nation sentiment here. Bullying and threatening did not work before. Complicity and silence with the KMT campaign has failed. It is time for realistic talks.
John Hanna, Taoyuan, Taiwan
It may not be the shooting per se, but how the two parties handled the aftermath, that affected the outcome of the election. The unsubstantiated accusations made by the press conference of the Lien camp, that the DPP staged the shooting in a bid to win sympathy votes at such a sensitive moment was inappropriate and turned the voters off.
Y.Y. Liu, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Chen Shui-bian has won the re-election! This result means that most of Taiwanese wants independence!
James Yeh, Taipei, Taiwan
Sure! Let Taiwan become independent. Return the billions upon billions of USD in gold bullion (plus interest) that the KMT took to Taiwan which fuelled its prosperity. Perhaps return Kinmen and Matsu, which were never Taiwanese territory. What about the art collection in Taipei. Should these not belong in China? Where it was taken away after 1949, it is our heritage, we want it back! If the Taiwanese feel so ashamed to be "Chinese", perhaps they should get rid of the Chinese characters from their language, and perhaps their minnan dialect, which of course is Chinese. I totally respect the choice of the Taiwanese but they have simply squandered the sympathy of the Overseas Chinese with their incessant denial of their Chinese roots.
Julius Chan, Hong Kong
Mr Chen is like a barbarian who would do anything to make sure that he stays as a president!!! He's the number one enemy within a democratic system and I'm disgusted with the leadership of his kind.
It is so unfair that everybody on this forum thinks China mainland is the "bad, bully" one. Remember there are still almost 50% Taiwanese want to reunite with China when condition is ripe, ignore them is not fair! Do you know why they want to stay with China? Common root is only one reason. Taiwanese enjoy so much tax and legislative preference in business in China. As long as they show Taiwanese passport, they get money from bank with so much cheaper rate than mainland common Chinese people. You know why? Chinese government really want to be friends with these people and create bonds with them. Yet they took all the benefits and return with a big slap. This is not fair!!! I hope common English people have clear head - you would not be happy if I say I support independence of Northern Ireland. Stand in my shoes, you would respect the thoughts of a common mainland Chinese man.
C.Yuan, UK ex-Chinese (mainland)
Why does the West always think that Taiwan is a part of China? Maybe we had a wrong policy, but nowadays most Taiwanese like to be recognized as independent by the world. Americans' ancestors came from all over the world, especially the Europe, why they are Americans, not English or Irish? The Chinese Communist government never ruled Taiwan for one day. Many Taiwanese sacrificed for a democratic society in Taiwan. We do like and enjoy our democracy and freedom. I hope the West could encourage Taiwan to do their best, but not to flatter China.
Grace, Taipei, Taiwan
Interesting...emotional events introduced just before an election! We've seen this before! Says a lot about the Taiwan voters that they choose strength and defiance versus surrender and appeasement. China should be proud to be a renegade province of Taiwan!
To some extent, the shootings might attract some people who had not decided which candidate they would eventually vote for to Chen Shui-bian. However, there is not any evidence to support this kind of thought. What Lien Chan did today was really bad. He should admit that he lost and should take responsibility for that. What he is trying to do is cause conflicts between two groups of Taiwanese, which is unwise and childish.
Fiona, Leeds, UK
Void the ballot! Recount for a fairer and cleaner election.
Jen, Taipei, Taiwan
Taiwan is making history with the first ever referendum and the Taiwanese must make it clear that it will and shall not be intimidated by Communist China. No matter who wins the election, that person/party will inherit tremendous responsibility of maintaining Taiwan's clear and only path of democracy.
Joe Hsu, Taipei, Taiwan
Taiwan was a part of China historically and was only separated because of Japanese invasion. China has the full right to take Taiwan, peacefully or by force. The western people talk about this issue without knowledge of such a historical context are only fooling themselves. But then, there are so many bloodshed by these so called civilized western countries that their opinions are worth nothing if not for their present economical and political power. However, that will change.
It strikes me as amusing that the man who shot Chen Shui-Bian has probably won him the election. I doubt, however, that he was anyone other than a fanatic: claims of DPP or Chinese involvement are unfounded.
Richard, Taipei, Taiwan
The shooting, whether real or fake, definitely affected the election results, shifting a large portion of the votes toward Chen. The incidence however, shouldn't matter at all. So what if he's badly hurt, so what if he's fine, it ain't gonna change anything he's done in the past four years. His success in re-election will worsen the relationship between Taiwan and China, for his credits no longer exist. His logo is "not able to keep up his words". Will anyone, including the authorities in Mainland China, be willing to discuss anything with such a person.
Brian Liou, Taipei, Taiwan
I just hope that the leaders of China can understand Taiwanese people have their right to vote and live under democracy. Armed threat or any other military acts can never win our hearts in Taiwan. I learned how precious a democratic society is in Taiwan and certainly if anyone forces me to accept the communism; it violates my human right. Maybe China thinks communism is the best political ideology but most people in Taiwan disagree with that. Therefore, let us be our own masters!
Jerski Huang, Taipei, Taiwan
I've been watching Taiwan election with great interest. And I praise the people in Taiwan for their determination to continue the election as planned. As a Japanese, I'm glad that there is another functioning democracy in east Asia. Cross-strait relationship has a wide impact on Japan. The people in Taiwan have chosen their president today and I strongly believe the next president will seek a peaceful coexistence for the sake of Taiwan and other east Asian nations.
Susumu, Tokyo, Japan
It's good to know that there has not been any direct impact to Asia's only true democracy. Whether the assassination attempt was threat from China or from an angry Taiwanese opponent, what matters is that Taiwan is still a democracy. However, what is alarming is that many people feel that Taiwan is no longer supported by the international community
in its quest to be an independent country. Hopefully this incident brings Taiwan's fortune back on the forefront of the world's stage.
DJ R, San Francisco, CA
As a Chinese who has strong faith in democracy, I am dismayed by the poor example Taiwan sets for China. Many living in China now see no reason to fight for democracy since it gives Taiwan nothing but a hungry ghoul that feeds on racial tension, social instability, and political demagogy. Taiwan's demise and China's ascendance is a double blow to true democratic ideals.
Sharen Li, Chicago / Beijing
I am especially upset over the public comments of some European leaders (amongst them chancellor Schroeder of my home country Germany) saying that Taiwan should not go ahead with the referendum since it would change the status quo. I find this very disgusting, since these people are not at all informed about the situation here in Taiwan.
K.Krieger, Taipei, Taiwan
Having arrived here almost twenty years ago when Taiwan was still under martial law, I have witnessed many changes since then. But one thing has never changed, and that is my feeling that Taiwan is already independent. Taiwan has its own government, laws, currency, passports, stock markets, elections etc. Chen Shui-bian does his best to antagonise China because he realises it is the only way he can win the election, but he hardly inspires confidence in me.
Zak, Taipei, Taiwan
If Taiwan won't be an independent country, there would be no more military threat from China. China can open to Taiwan, but Tai wai can't. Whatever you say you are Chinese or Taiwanese, we share similar culture and language, so please take care of you and each other.
Ricky Hu, Chengdu, China
Those who still think China as an "evil empire" have not visited China for at least ten years. Out of so much pain and struggle, China has re-born as an open-minded and industrious self. China has made the statement by the honest work of their hands - evil nations can never possess such confidence and joy as China does now. But unfortunately, decades' old stereotype is still the only archived picture of China in so many uninformed minds, which often jump to judgment all too quickly.
Tony, Toronto, Canada
There are a lot of Taiwanese in China. They are no different from other Chinese people. There also are a lot of Chinese in Taiwan, but they are treated like second citizens.
Please stop trying to divide the Chinese people. Taiwan is a part of China. It does not belong only to the 23 million on Taiwan but to the 1.23 billion in mainland China. People of Taiwan, please stop thinking petty and avoid a devastating war on our people. I support the Democratic process (just look at the influence it has made on PRC's government), but Chinese should not kill fellow Chinese. And remember that Japan and America are just waiting to profit from all of this (i.e. Iran-Contra Affair).
Steve, New York
Yes, the shooting has changed the future of Taiwan. Honestly, most voters had been through too much for the past few days. There is no doubt that China will watch really closely not only for the outcome of the recount voting but also further political changes. But I don't see there's any danger now. Life goes on no matter what happens. Taiwanese should be united not separated.
Ryder, Taipei, Taiwan
Taiwan is an independent country, we can elect our President.
Lin, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Taiwan has the ability to achieve independence, but creating an independent state slowly is not the way to go. Like ripping off a band aid Taiwan must quickly declare independence.
Kevin Morris, Winnipeg, Canada
It is easy to criticise China's threat of using its weapons against Taiwan, but it is the West who have used their weapons against other countries many times.
Steve Choi, London, UK
As a Chinese, I see Taiwan as part of our country. Basically the government still think the civil war is not over yet. The nationalists who fled the mainland are still in Taiwan. Taiwan has always been a part of China. For over 1,000 years we have governed it. We will not give up so easily. There's also an issue of pride and saving face. US will not want to fight China. I mean look at Iraq, they are still having trouble over Iraq (a much smaller and weaker country compared to China).
Ruijun Li, Shanghai, China/Newcastle, UK
No matter who leads Taiwan, Taiwan is still a part of China. Nobody, including Mr. Chen, dares to declare independence at all. All they are acting are just strategies for political play.
Edward, Cambridge, UK
It came as a great shock to hear about the shooting. I had been looking out of my window waiting to see the presidential party pass along my street. Of course, very sadly, it didn't come.
John Crocker, Tainan, Taiwan
China will never give up the thought of taking Taiwan back. But the thing is even if China reunifies with Taiwan territorially, the reunification of thought can never be achieved. If China still insists to 'liberate' Taiwan by force despite the fact that the majority of Taiwanese want independence, loads of Taiwanese will join TRA. War will never end war.
Tsao Liang-Pin, Taiwan/Wales
He'll definitely get sympathy votes. I like Pres Chen Shui-bian and want him to win - I like his guts! You go sir!
Mary Rose Feehily, Manila, Philippines
Personally, I think this issue has no influence on the election. Most Taiwanese are fed up with him. To say is one thing, to do is another. If we Taiwanese, want to choose one from the so-called two rotten apples, I think the experienced one is better and stable if we really care about Taiwan's future.
Leon , Taiwan
I think the event will not cause too much impact upon Taiwanese people as the democratic society is becoming mature here, people can see the event with calmness and peace, however the reputation of Taiwan's democracy is deeply damaged. Shui-bian may get some extra votes in terms of sympathetics. I support him to stay in office for one more term to keep on working with political reformation.
Song Chen, Taipei, Taiwan
If Chen is re-elected the relationship between Taiwan and mainland will get worse for sure. In history, mainland and Taiwan Island belong to the same country .That is why KMT and CCP all consider that one country includes mainland and Taiwan.
Jasmine, Florida, US
It was extremely shocking today to hear the news that the president was shot and most people here just hope there will be peace here in the coming weeks. If my family had been living in Taiwan under a different government from China, and our own passports and rights, I would feel Taiwanese as obviously the majority of people here now do (especially in the south), and not mainland Chinese. The thought of eventual re-unification would seem ridiculous. Only 10% of the people living on the island actually came from China in 1949 and sadly these are the people that hold the majority of power and business in the North. Whatever happens tomorrow, I just hope that Taiwan remains a safe, friendly and great country to live in!
Adam Smith, Taipei, Taiwan
The upcoming elections in Taiwan are unlikely to have a dramatic effect on the long-term relations between Beijing and Taipei. Both are waiting for conditions to be ripe for a merging of the two. The Chinese Communist Party has invested far too much 'face', and lack belief in themselves to govern efficiently, to back down completely whilst Taipei stands increasingly isolated from the world community. The one things that binds the two is that they are Chinese; that will outlive any political ideologies.
Li Yao, Wuhan/London
I'm a British ex-pat living in Taipei. In all the years of KMT rule, Taiwanese people and their culture were suppressed. Taiwanese schoolchildren were systematically educated to believe that mainland Chinese culture was superior. Finally Taiwanese people, largely thanks to the efforts of the DPP, have a voice. President Chen isn't too badly hurt, so there's no reason to stop this voice from being heard in this weekend's elections.
Richard Davids, Taipei, Taiwan
With the elections and referendum only a few hours away, this truly unexpected event seems sure to affect a vote which very much hung in the balance. We won't have to wait long to see, but a Chen win is sure to frustrate China, especially with 'their man' doing so well in the election run-up. The policies of both candidates seem to hint at big changes for Taiwan, in the short or mid-term. Today's shooting seems likely to affect the way those changes shape up.
Robert Collinson, Taipei, Taiwan
Of course the vote and referendum shall go ahead tomorrow. We can almost predict the shot at Chen will influence the high ground of KMT, and probably change the vote result. However, the vote should go on as scheduled and we will execute the right to choose our own president even under threats from China.
Y.Y. Lee, Taipei, Taiwan
China has not ruled Taiwan since the island was ceded to Japan in 1895. Instead of recognizing and learning from the world's only Chinese democracy, China has resorted to military threat and violence to solve a problem which was not theirs from the beginning.
Wils Cheng, Taipei/Gothenburg/Dallas
China has been causing trouble for years by isolating Taiwan internationally and by threatening it militarily. Still, major countries call Taiwan a trouble maker for "complaining" about the situation and they encourage China to continue bullying Taiwan (sometimes tacitly, sometimes overtly). Beijing's one condition for talks with Taiwan is that Taiwan reduce it's status from nation to province. I don't see how even Lian Chan can talk to China under such conditions - unless he really wants to declare himself, his party and the R.O.C. null and void. For the time being, Taiwan should have an election for the man who can best lead Taiwan, not for the man who can make China happy.
Paul SanGregory, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Taiwanese people have as much right to hold a referendum as anyone. Just because Chinese doesn't like it or "allow it" is no excuse to deny this democratic right enjoyed by Europeans and Americans. If Taiwanese share the concern with all these outsiders about "provoking China," they'll vote for reunification. Those who favour appeasement to China in the name of "stability and peace" sure are quick to sacrifice other people's liberty and future without hesitation. Let Taiwanese decide for themselves!!
Leon Chiang, Cape Town, South Africa
No doubt that Taiwan is a part of China either from an historical point of view or from international law's point of view. I strongly support the democratic process in Taiwan but the principle cannot be changed. When you are talking about something like the Chinese missiles aimed to Taiwan, please think about the missiles from America aiming to the whole world. There is no question such as 'Taiwan should or should not be a part of China' because Taiwan IS a part of China.
David Zhang, UK, London
Chen Shui-bian has once again proved his integrity and courage. That still of the video footage of the shooting says it all. Unfortunately, there are many in Taiwan who disbelieve, some even who dare to suggest the whole event was faked by the DPP in a last-ditch effort to gain sympathy from voters. Such a conspiracy theory only shows the political immaturity of those who exalt such shameless propaganda. The local media is partly to blame for this, with scandal-driven tabloid style reportage becoming increasingly prevalent. May the Taiwanese be smart enough to be able to exercise their judgement of the candidates in an atmosphere free of manipulation or posturing. There is too much at stake, for defining Taiwan's future NOW, as opposed to later, can only be in the nation's supreme self-interest.
Jason Gray Stewart, Taoyuan, Taiwan
It is a great crime that the West continually allows China to coerce Taiwan into "peaceful reunification." Last time I checked 450 missiles, growing at a rate of a hundred per year, and constant threats of using force is a significant indication of someone trying to "unilaterally change the status quo." As an American living in Southern Taiwan, all I have to say is this, "George Bush, you lost my vote."
Mark Sheridan, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Although I have Chinese roots myself, I find the entire dispute over whether Taiwan is Taiwanese Chinese or Mainland Chinese property amusing. No one seems to bother to remember that Taiwan's native population is distinctly Austronesian - the Paiwan, Amis, Taroko, Rukai and others. If Taiwan "belongs" to anyone, it's them.
For Taiwan, to be democratic is the best way to keep the country secure. If the China can practice democracy and be kind to Taiwanese instead of threatening them military, and if the two countries trust each other more, then the time of reunion for the two countries can be expected. Otherwise, the tendency of Taiwanese will leans to independency. And the Taiwanese will prepare to fight for freedom. We need a wise president.
Jeff, Taoyuan, Taiwan
If Chen is elected, then we in the West must support their democratic view & wishes for independence & self determination, even if it does upset China. China is now dependent on exports to the West. If China threatens military action against Taiwan we must be ready to impose immediate sanctions against them.
Roger, Whitwick, England
War threat will not lessen the intention of Taiwan people to maintain and deepen their current economic prosperity and democracy. Referendum is our right!
Chia-Hsiang Hwang, Taichung, Taiwan
It makes one wonder that if this assassination attempt is motivated by the recent Spanish election. One can only hope that fear and cowardice does not control the voting public as it did in Spain or every future election could be marred by serious violence.
Dan, Chicago USA
China is a bully who would make of Taiwan what they made of Tibet. The Communist hate nothing more than free elections because it goes against their own state controlled ideal of government. I wouldn't be surprised to find that this latest assassination attempt was a product of the Chinese government. Soon we will be chanting free Taiwan along with free Tibet.
Sean, Orlando, Florida
The situation between China and Taiwan can only be normalised when the repressive communist government of PROC truly embraces democracy and reforms and accepts Taiwan's independence. Mainland China has no more claim to Taiwan than Milosevic's Serbia had on Croatia or Bosnia. Western democracies wouldn't tolerate a PROC-style policy in their own backyards. We should support Taiwan's decisions regardless of how China feels about it.
David R, Princeton, NJ USA
Even though I support Chen Shui-bian and his Referendum, I do wish to say a few words about this. The elections and referendum should be pushed to a later date. Though they are still held on the 20th, to try and calm down the public on this near-assassination, this is a shocking incident, and a direct threat to the President. It could be the KMT people who did it, but my guess is China, since they don't like Chen's pro-independence stand. Also, they claimed that they will use force when necessary. This could be a direct threat, if China really was the one who instigated it. The situation between China and Taiwan may not be easy to normalise. Even if Lien is elected president, the situation may not be salvaged yet, as hundreds of missiles are still facing Taiwan, and these missiles could be the 'puppet controlling Taiwan', perhaps using it to threaten Taiwan should they go overboard.
Woon Wei Seng, Singapore, Singapore
As a British ex-pat living in Taipei, all we would like to see for the Taiwanese people is peace and stability. This vote is critical in Taiwanese history. A vote for Lien will at least bring try to bring China to the negotiating table, something which looks impossible under Chen. Whilst everybody agrees Taiwan should be independent, it is an idealistic view and will not happen in reality. China will simply not allow it and all of the western powers have too many vested interests to risk upsetting China.
Phillip Hoare, Taipei, Taiwan
I don't like neither of the candidates...i just hope whoever is the most suitable will be elected. Moreover, I wonder if people in the EU really care about the stability between Taiwan & China, why are Chirac and some other leaders trying hard to lift the ban on arms sales to China?
Ingrid S Liebekind, Taipei/Vancouver/Manchester
I think that the best would be - that the government in Beijing start cooperating with Taiwanese authority. Why can't Taiwan be a independent country?
Christopher Lie, Oslo, Norway
The people of Taiwan should make the ultimate decision on the island's fate (whether it be independence or reunification) without the threat of Chinese missiles. The One China Policy is meaningless if it does not reflect where Taiwan truly stands.
Jack, Vancouver, Canada
Neither side needs more weapons to deal with this conflict. Even if China cannot accept an independent Taiwan in their rhetoric, they must tone down their aggressive posture. Neither side benefits from provoking the situation. The West should recognize the deep history here and not do anything to meddle or provoke, provided, of course, that China understands an invasion of Taiwan will mean war with the US. This is not something worth fighting over. May each side display just a little more patience in this matter!
Michael, Menasha, WI, USA