Chen, who only garnered 39 percent of the vote, probably needs to take a wait-and-see approach as well. Chen's victory, which displaced the only ruling party Taiwan has ever known, was a product of timing he was able to capitalize on a schism that emerged in the Nationalist party in the months before the election. What's more, concerns about a Chinese attack were softened by the fact that Beijing hopes to win both permanent Most Favored Nation status with the U.S. and membership into the WTO in the coming weeks, and is leery of any acts that might upset those initiatives.
To make his autonomy agenda a reality, Chen is now faced with the twofold challenge of maintaining the country's economic prosperity while holding China at bay. Most of the country is still more concerned with peace and safety than political autonomy and will quickly defect to the Nationalists if a threat of aggression becomes real. What's more, investors both within and without Taiwan trust the Nationalists' economic stewardship. Many Taiwanese may love the concept of autonomy, but will still take a silent relationship with China over jeopardizing their economic and physical safety.