Taiwan Goes to Poll Today Amid Warnings From China

In Taiwan, 19.5 million eligible voters are participating in the democratic process today, casting their ballots to select a new President and Parliament. This crucial election unfolds against the backdrop of heightened tensions with China, which has been issuing stern warnings about the future of Taipei.

Voters have lined up outside polling stations throughout the country, with the voting period set to conclude at 4 p.m., as reported by CNN. The results of this closely watched election are anticipated later in the evening.

US China Taiwan Strait

Throughout the campaign period, candidates embarked on tours of major cities, organizing nightly rallies marked by rock music, impassioned speeches, and the rhythmic chanting of slogans by large crowds.

The three primary contenders seeking to succeed the incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen include Hou Yu-ih from the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party, Ko Wen-je from the Taiwan People's Party (TPP), and Lai Ching-te from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Lai, the current Vice President, aims to secure a third term for the ruling DPP, which has consistently clashed with Beijing over Taiwan's sovereignty. Such an outcome would be unprecedented in the island's nearly three decades of democratic history and would signify a rejection of China's strong-arm tactics.

Hou, a mayor and former police chief, represents the KMT, a party traditionally favoring closer cross-strait ties. A victory for the KMT would likely be perceived favorably by Beijing, indicating a potential desire among voters to ease tensions.

Ko, who founded the TPP in 2019 to challenge the island's political duopoly, also advocates for closer ties with China but asserts that he would be less deferential to Beijing than the KMT.

China's ruling Communist Party claims Taiwan as its territory, despite never having controlled it. On Wednesday, China urged Taiwanese voters to "make the right choice at the crossroads of cross-strait relations," criticizing the ruling DPP.

Xi Jinping
Xi Jinping Wikimedia Commons

President Xi Jinping has framed the presidential poll as a choice between "war and peace" and asserted that Taiwan's unification with the mainland is a "historical inevitability."

Just hours before polling commenced, China's Defence Ministry pledged to take "all necessary measures to crush any forms of secessionist designs for Taiwan independence."

While China insists that the election is purely an internal matter, tensions have escalated over the past year, with increased military pressure on Taiwan through the deployment of jets and warships. Despite this, China continues to emphasize its preference for peaceful "unification" over military conflict.