Taiwan votes tomorrow. Beijing is watching closely
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen is aiming for her second term as a defender of Taiwan's liberal values. Her rival Han Kuo-yu is in favor of establishing closer ties with mainland China. Both candidates have organized huge end-of-election rallies tonight.
Taipei (AsiaNews / Agencies) - These are hectic hours for Taiwanese politics, because tomorrow over 19.3 million citizens will be called to vote in the presidential and parliamentary elections. According to analysts, the result of the election round will define the course of relations between Taipei and Beijing, which claims Taiwan as its territory.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who is aiming for her second term, proposes herself as a defender of Taiwan's liberal values against China's growing interference under the rule of Xi Jinping. Ms. Tsai's rival is Han Kuo-yu, mayor of Kaohsiung. Considered a populist, the politician has long been in favor of establishing closer ties with mainland China and accuses the current administration of unnecessarily antagonizing Beijing.
Both candidates have organized huge end-of-election rallies tonight. Taiwanese law prohibits the publication of polls within 10 days of the election, but according to experts, Ms. Tsai is ahead with a wide margin over her rival. Beijing has not hidden its desire to see her lose. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) tends towards independence. In addition, the president rejects the Chinese government's idea that Taiwan is part of "one China".
In the four years since Ms. Tsai won the presidential election for the first time, Beijing has tightened the screws on its neighbor; cut off official communications with the Taiwanese government and increased economic and military pressure. China has also snatched seven of the few remaining diplomatic allies from Taiwan, hoping that this will persuade Taiwanese voters to punish Ms. Tsai at the polls.
The results of tomorrow's vote will be closely followed by regional powers and the United States, especially in light of the stalemate that currently characterizes relations between Washington and Beijing. Taiwan has long been a potential critical point for relations between the Chinese and US government, which remains the island's main military ally.