TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) -- Defying China's threats of war, Taiwanese ended more than a half century of Nationalist Party rule Saturday and elected an opposition leader whose party favors Taiwan's formal independence from the rest of China.
Chen Shui-bian, of the Democratic Progressive Party, defeated Nationalist Vice President Lien Chan and populist independent James Soong as Taiwanese overcame any fears of an attack by Beijing. Chen had 39 percent of the vote, with Soong second at 37 percent and Lien getting just 23 percent.
In a statement issued by state-run news media, China's government and the Communist Party said they would wait to see what Chen would say and do.
The election results ''will not change the status of Taiwan as a part of China,'' the statement said.
Some 82.7 percent of eligible voters participated in the election.
Thousands of Chen's followers celebrated with blaring air horns, fireworks and deafening cheers as the results flashed on a huge TV screen set up on a blocked-off street in front of his Taipei campaign office.
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