Whilst internationally, it has not achieved the goal of returning to the UN or any of its agencies, it is on the threshold of admission to the World Trade Organization. Yet there is every indication that this month’s presidential elections will be the most closely contested ever. The outcome may strongly affect relations across the Taiwan Straits. At worst, this dispute may provoke a confrontation between the United States and Beijing. Whatever happens, there will be a major impact on regional security.
Since the last presidential elections in 1996, the economy has continued its healthy growth, despite the regional financial crisis and despite – or perhaps because of – the moderate devaluation of the currency in autumn 1998.