Taiwan Presidential Frontrunner Says Considering Olympic Boycott Over Tibet

The frontrunner in Taiwan's presidential elections says he is willing to consider a boycott of the 2008 Olympic Games if the crackdown in Tibet continues and grows worse.

Speaking with reporters Tuesday, just days before voters go to the polls in Taiwan, opposition Nationalist Party candidate Ma Ying-jeou said that if he is elected, he would not rule out the possibility of not sending athletes to Beijing. Ma leads in the polls.

His remarks are his strongest to date on the issue of Tibet. They follow sharp criticism from Ma's opponent on his China policies.

On Monday, ruling Democratic Progressive Party candidate Frank Hsieh said Ma's desire for closer relations with Beijing could lead the island to a fate similar to Tibet's.

Taiwan will hold its presidential election this Saturday March 22nd.

Hsieh has also said he favors enhanced links with China, but not at the risk of Taiwan's security.

Tibet became an issue in the upcoming election when Taiwanese television began covering last week's protests and China's crackdown.

China and Taiwan split during a civil war in 1949, but Beijing insists that the self-ruled island is part of its own territory. China has threatened to use military force to back its claims of sovereignty over the island.

Some information for this report provided by AP and CNA.