Taiwan votes after fiercely contested election campaign with focus on China ties

After a fierce campaign fought under the spectre of Beijing’s influence, today’s elections in Taiwan will determine the next president

taiwan election

Photo: Central Election Commission/AP

After a fierce campaign fought under the spectre of Beijing’s influence, today’s elections in Taiwan will determine the next president and reshape the legislative assembly.

Incumbent President Tsai Ying-wen, whose Democratic Progress Party suffered huge losses in local elections in 2018, has turned the tables on her Kuomintang opponent, Han Kuo-yu, by framing herself as the most capable person to maintain Taiwan’s sovereignty and safeguard its democracy.

With Tsai polling nationally at 50.8% compared with Han’s 15.2%, her re-election is highly likely. The incumbent president rebounded in the polls by denouncing alleged Chinese propaganda campaigns while tapping the energy of Taiwanese youth outraged by the municipal response to protests in Hong Kong.

If Tsai does win re-election, expect a further deterioration in cross-Strait relations. Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged to use force if necessary to re-unify Taiwan with the mainland, and analysts fear a deteriorating economy could lead Beijing to ramp up rhetoric or even take economic and military action to pressure the self-ruling island.

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