TAIPEI, Taiwan -- An opposition victory in Taiwan's presidential election rattled the jittery stock market today and prompted lawmakers and hundreds of demonstrators to demand that retiring President Lee Teng-hui immediately quit as chairman of the ruling Nationalist Party.
Demands for Lee's resignation came after he promised Sunday to resign as the party's leader in September. But that was not soon enough for the protesters, who were angry over the Nationalist Party's loss to former Taipei Mayor Chen Shui-bian.
Chen, who trounced the Nationalist candidate, Vice President Lien Chan, in the vote Saturday, is under the close watch of rival China and its massive military, which fears he will spark a conflict by pushing Taiwan toward independence.
The two sides split amid civil war in 1949, and Beijing has given the island a choice: eventual reunification or war.
While honoring the Taiwanese tradition of visiting and thanking campaign supporters, Chen today pledged to seek reconciliation, cooperation and peace with China through dialogue.
''As long as we are treated as equals, there is nothing we cannot discuss,'' Chen told reporters, following a visit to Taiwanese shipping tycoon Chang Rong-fa.
Beijing was quiet today, issuing no response to Chen's comments. The Chinese government has said it was waiting to see what Chen's actions would be. In the days leading up to Saturday's election, Chinese officials had signaled their distrust of Chen and repeated threats against the island.
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