Major strides by Taiwan's conservative New Party in the Dec. 2 legislative elections will likely bolster China's confidence in its "missile diplomacy." The Chinese had held military maneuvers near the island to discourage voters from supporting pro-independence candidates. The move seems to have paid off: The New Party, made up of Kuomintang (KMT) deserters angry over President Lee Teng-hui's flirting with independence, has surged from 7 to 21 seats.
By comparison, the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party gained only four seats. The gains came at the expense of Lee's long-ruling KMT, whose majority was trimmed to 85 seats in the 164-seat assembly.
Beijing is likely to keep the pressure on as the March presidential elections approach. There may even be a mock invasion of Kinmen, a Taiwanese island off China's coast. Lee's poll ratings have dropped, and he's facing more defections to the New Party.