01/23/2023, 15.38
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Year of the Rabbit to shape 2024 presidential race

Potential candidates visit the country's temples on the first day of the lunar new year. Vice President Lai Ching-te is the favourite in the ruling party. New Mayor Taipei Hou Yu-ih is leading in the Chinese nationalist Kuomintang with hi-tech giant Foxconn founder Terry Guo well positioned.

Taipei (AsiaNews) – Yesterday was the first day of the Year of the Rabbit. In Taiwan, it marked the start of the campaign to replace outgoing President Tsai Ing-wen, leader of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), whose second term in office ends next year.

Following tradition, potential presidential candidates visited the country's temples for Lunar New Year festivities, taking the opportunity to position themselves ahead of the upcoming race.

At the Qingan temple in Keelung, Vice President Lai Ching-te said the government's priority is to improve the economy, which slowed down towards the end of 2022 due to declining world demand, especially for microchips.

Last week, Lai took over the leadership of the DPP, making him the favourite to be his party’s candidate for president. One of the key points he stressed was boosting the island's military capabilities vis-à-vis mainland China.

Eric Chu, head of the Chinese nationalist Kuomintang, Taiwan’s main opposition party, visited Longshan shrine in the capital. Polls among party members ahead of upcoming primaries place him in third place (7.9 per cent) behind New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih and tycoon Terry Gou.

Gou is the founder and former CEO of Foxconn, the world's largest iPhone manufacturer, with huge interests in mainland China.

Visiting Cihui and Jieyun temples in New Taipei, Guo told reporters that he asked the gods if he should compete in the 2024 elections. Sound very much like a candidate, he stressed that people expect a leader who can keep the peace and strengthen the economy.

The Kuomintang is more open to mainland China, which accuses Tsai and her party of seeking Taiwan’s independence; for the mainland, Taiwan is a rebel province to be taken by force if necessary.

In November, the DPP suffered a crushing defeat in local elections. But the same happened before the 2020 presidential elections, which saw Tsai re-elected.

In Taiwan, relations with China weigh heavily, with the Kuomintang often accused of being too closely aligned on the positions of communist China.

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