Taiwan will vote in the only free elections in the Chinese-speaking world to elect the next president and new parliament who will lead the island in the shadow of China's intimidation. A few hours after the polls opened, he made himself heard with a sharp warning to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which is currently in power.
Beijing's armed forces “remain on alert and will take all necessary measures to forcibly crush any form of secessionist plot for Taiwan's independence and resolutely protect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Defense Ministry spokesman Zhang Xiaogang warned of the upgrade the DPP demanded delivery of the F-16V fighter jets and the planned purchase of additional military jets from the USA.
The crucial election is drawing global attention: Some analysts in the United States and Western countries see China close to completing preparations for an invasion of the island, seen by the Communist leadership as an “inalienable” part of the People's Republic, which is also linked to the to be reunited is violence.
Taipei is also a critically important microchip superpower to the global economy and is seen as the frontline of Chinese expansionism. For young people, however, voting is less ideological and also concerns issues more related to real and daily life, between stagnant wages and demands for social justice.
William Lai, the former DPP medical candidate and current vice president, is the “troublemaker” whom Beijing accuses of taking a pro-independence stance; Hou Yu-ih, former national police chief and mayor of New Taipei on leave, is running for the Kuomintang Nationalists (KMT), which have traditionally been conciliatory towards China; Ko Wen-je, leader of the People's Party (TPP) and former mayor of Taipei, is the third wheel. In the three-way fight, the opposition has repeatedly portrayed the election as a choice between war and peace, while the DPP has reiterated its desire to abandon the status quo on the other side of the Strait.
On Friday evening, the candidates made their final appeals to the 19.5 million voters out of over 23 million citizens. Lai, the favorite according to polls, argued at the final rally in New Taipei: “If Taiwan does not continue to choose the right path and move closer to China again, its advantage will be lost and foreign investment on the island could be stopped,” and demanded called on us to “continue to reject Chinese authoritarianism.” His KMT rival Hou attacked Lai at a demonstration also in New Taipei, believing that if he won the situation would “most likely get worse” and there was a risk of war. “I support pragmatic exchanges with the mainland and advocate for Taiwan's security and human rights protection,” he added. The TPP's Ko instead declared that it was time to break bipolarism while speaking on Ketagalan Boulevard in Taipei. While speaking on the issue of security, he stated that if elected, he would like to create a tripartite communication platform with the United States and Japan to ensure peace in East Asia.
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