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Monday, February 26, 2024

Polls open as Taiwan voters select subsequent president, weighing China’s risk and island’s stability

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TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwanese are casting their votes Saturday for a brand new president in an election that might chart the trajectory of its relations with China over the following 4 years.

At stake is the peace and stability of the 110-mile-wide (177-kilometer-wide) strip of water between the Chinese language mainland and the self-governed island claimed by China as its personal.

Vice President Lai Ching-te, representing the governing Democratic Progressive Social gathering, referred to as the DPP, seeks to succeed the outgoing President Tsai Ing-wen and provides the independence-leaning occasion an unprecedented third time period. Lai might be voting in his hometown of Tainan.

Hou Yu-ih, the candidate of Beijing-favored Kuomintang Social gathering, also called the Nationalist Social gathering, might be casting his poll in New Taipei Metropolis.

Different candidate Ko Wen-je of the Taiwan Individuals’s Social gathering, who has proven recognition amongst younger voters who search a substitute for the 2 main events, might be voting in Taipei.

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Voting started at 8 a.m. (0000 GMT) Saturday and was to wrap up eight hours later.

Candidates wrapped up their campaigns Friday night time with stirring speeches, however youthful voters had been largely centered on their financial futures in a difficult environment.

Talking in his hometown of Tainan within the island’s south, Lai mirrored on why he left his profession as a surgeon due to China’s missile assessments and navy workout routines aimed toward intimidating Taiwanese voters earlier than the primary open presidential election in 1996.

“I needed to guard the democracy that had simply gotten underway in Taiwan. I gave up my well-paid job and determined to observe the footsteps of our elders in democracy,” Lai mentioned.

Hou, a former head of Taiwan’s police power and mayor of the capital’s suburbs, mentioned Lai’s view on relations with Beijing may carry uncertainty and even the potential for warfare.

“I advocate pragmatic exchanges with China, the protection of nationwide safety, and safety of human rights. I insist that Taiwan’s future might be determined by 23.5 million (individuals of Taiwan) and I’ll use my life to guard Taiwan,” Hou mentioned.

China’s navy threats may sway some voters towards independence-leaning candidates, however the U.S. has pledged help for whichever authorities emerges, strengthened by the Biden administration’s plans to ship an unofficial delegation made up of former senior officers to the island shortly after the election.

That transfer may upset efforts to restore ties between Beijing and Washington that plunged in recent times over commerce, COVID-19, Washington’s stepped-up help for Taiwan and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which China has refused to sentence on the United Nations.

Other than China tensions, the Taiwan election largely hinges on home points, significantly an financial system that was estimated to have grown simply 1.4% final yr. That partly displays inevitable cycles in demand for laptop chips and different exports from the high-tech, closely trade-dependent manufacturing base, and a slowing of the Chinese language financial system.

However longer-term challenges akin to housing affordability, a yawning hole between wealthy and poor, and unemployment are particularly outstanding.

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