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Photograph by David Hartung for TIME
Chen Shui-bian takes time out for an interview in his Taipei office on election day.

T H E  F I R S T  I N T E R V I E W
"Now that the election is over, passions must subside"
The votes were still being tallied on Saturday when Chen Shui-bian spoke with TIME's East Asia correspondent Terry McCarthy. Excerpts from the interview:

TIME: What will be your first act as President?
Chen Shui-bian: First I have to make four calls and see one person. The four calls will be to the other candidates to express my appreciation for the opportunity I had to mature and grow during the campaign period. The one person I must see is Lee Teng-hui, since I am succeeding him as President. He contributed a lot to Taiwan's democracy and progress, and I will seek his advice on many matters of domestic and international affairs. I think we should form a government that crosses ethnic and party lines, and we should build links to all the other parties. Now that the election is over, passions must subside, especially in cross-Strait relations. We would propose active conciliation to reduce tensions.

TAIWAN: Off With a Bang
Fiery words from Beijing mark the start of the island's critical presidential election, but the three leading contenders continue to focus mostly on local concerns
On the Issues: The candidates share their views
Tough Talk: Beijing too has a domestic agenda
Jiang Who? Taiwan's youth couldn't care less about China
Line of Fire: Sin-ming Shaw says the posturing must stop

TIME: What was the most memorable part of the campaign?
Chen: Initially, with the struggle inside my party for the nomination and then the three-way race of candidates, some in the party didn't support me and doubted my ability to win. But one year later the party came around fully to be behind me. This has been a very complex and moving transition for me. As I said in my speech [at the close of his campaign last Friday], during all this campaigning and speaking my body has grown very tired. But when I go home and see my wife and family, my heart is not tired. All my supporters warm my heart and give me great strength and encouragement.

Photograph by David Hartung for TIME; Graphic by CNN; Photo illustration by Adam Connors
The preliminary results at Saturday 6:30pm Taiwan time

TIME: How will you reassure Taiwan and the rest of the world that there will not be war in the Taiwan Strait?
Chen: First of all, we will build a cross-party coalition to deal with the very difficult issue of cross-Strait relations. I will not even wait for the inauguration [on May 20] but start right away because this is such an important issue. Without such a cross-party consensus behind me, it would be very difficult to proceed. Second, although I am proud to be a member of the DPP, national interests must come before party and personal interests. I will keep a clear line between party and state interests. I would like to visit the United States, Japan and possibly Singapore and other concerned states to communicate with them on security issues. And I also hope before May 20 to make a goodwill visit to China. On cross-Strait relations, I will invite [Nobel Prize winner] Dr. Lee Yuan-tseh to lead a group of consultants, and I will also invite experts like chief cross-Strait negotiator Koo Chen-fu, who have been working on this area in the past.

TIME: Is this a new era for Taiwan?
Chen: In this election we chose a new future, an end to the 55-year monopoly on power by the KMT. It is Taiwan's first handover of power, and it is a consolidation of Taiwan's democracy. The U.S. had its first handover of power 200 years ago. We are coming later, but we feel this moment is truly historic. We will complete Taiwan's first peaceful transition of power.

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