Taiwan's ruling pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party has a clear-cut election strategy for the presidential poll in March. By appealing to the separatist sentiments of a segment of the island's population, as was laid out in a resolution passed yesterday, it hopes to gain the edge on its political rival, the Kuomintang, which favours eventual unification with the mainland. The approach is destructive, to say the least. In the name of winning votes, the party is willing to split the island and set it on a course that benefits no one but the DPP itself. Taiwan well knows that any move for independence will invoke Beijing's anger and perhaps its military might. Nor will the United States, which provides the island with weapons, be happy about the equilibrium being upset. For Taiwanese, any such declaration means uncertainty and instability. Japan and the region will be swept into or affected by the political storm created by such a move. The resolution passed at the DPP's congress highlights the extent to which politicians are willing to go to win re-election. While the document stopped short of declaring Taiwan an independent country, it left open that possibility for whenever strategists think such a move may be necessary to pull in more voters. Rather than call outright for Taiwan's sovereignty, as former party chairman Yu Shyi-kun had wanted, delegates instead supported a statement asserting the island's separate identity from that of the mainland. The resolution still called for a referendum on sovereignty, a new constitution, a continued push for a seat for the island at the United Nations and for recognition internationally of the name Taiwan beside that of the formal designation of the Republic of China. Yu, a former premier, had nothing to lose. He had failed to win the DPP's nomination for the presidency, and on September 21 was charged with corruption for the alleged embezzlement and misuse of a special government account. The party's presidential candidate, Frank Hsieh, backed the less provocative resolution. In degrees of being problematic for Taiwan, that resolution is only marginally so, however. For one, the UN has already spoken on the membership issue, proclaiming last month - for the 16th consecutive time - that the island could not have a seat on the world body. Beijing and Washington have reiterated the dangers of any move towards independence. More realistic is the KMT's policy for gradual integration of the island and the mainland. Through closer trade and direct air links, Taiwan will benefit economically. A declaration of independence would have quite the opposite effect. While the DPP regards pushing for such a goal as a means of garnering votes, such an eventuality will bring about the island's isolation and threaten the status quo. Time will resolve Taiwan's status. Forcing the situation through a referendum, a name change or gaining a seat on the UN would only disturb that stability. Until there can be a peaceful resolution of the differences between the mainland and Taiwan, every effort has to be made to maintain the existing state of affairs. Politicising the situation only threatens peace and prosperity.