It seems that Taiwan’s constitution won’t be frozen and replaced after all.
If Mr. Chen were removed from office, it may be for the best. His election in 2000, which made him the first non-Kuomintang president in Taiwan’s history as the Republic of China, was an encouraging sign of the maturation of Taiwan’s democracy and democracy in region on the whole. But his administration has been unsteady, and threats to move towards formal independence made the situation in the Taiwan Straits ever more unstable.
One would expect that Mr. Chen will be succeeded by a Kuomintang candidate, which would make a return to more stable cross-straits relations, because the Kuomintang — China’s last non-communist ruling party — has little interest in renouncing the Republic of China’s claim to govern all of China and not just a handful of islands off the coast, which would necessarily result from a formal Taiwanese declaration of independence.
Beijing is surely watching the developments in Taipei with great interest (and, no doubt, considerable glee). But China won’t breathe easy until Mr. Chen is gone, whether in the weeks to come or after the March 2008 elections.