Voting for Taiwanese presidential election began on Saturday, amid fears from China that the self-governing island may go to war if a leader of its choosing were elected.
In the days preceding the election, Beijing denounced the front-runner, current vice president Lai Ching-te, as a dangerous “separatist,” and on election eve, its defense ministry pledged to “crush” any attempts at Taiwanese independence.
Democratic Taiwan is divided from the mainland by a strait that is 180 kilometers (110 miles) long. Communist China claims Taiwan as its own and has stated that it will not rule out using force to bring about “unification,” even in the absence of an immediate confrontation.
Results are anticipated on Saturday night, and as the two heavyweights compete for influence in the strategically important region, Beijing and Washington, Taiwan’s principal military ally, will be keenly monitoring the outcome.
In a boisterous campaign, Lai, of the Democratic Progressive party (DPP), positioned himself as the protector of Taiwan’s democratic way of life. The main opposition candidate, Hou Yu-ih of the Kuomintang (KMT), supports closer ties with China and charges the DPP of inciting tensions with Beijing by asserting that Taiwan is “already independent.”
According to the KMT, economic prosperity will be increased while solid diplomatic ties with allies abroad, particularly the US, are maintained. Also Read: Tragically, Braxton Wilson Perishes in a Car Accident
Taiwan forbids the publication of surveys within ten days of an election, but political analysts predict that 64-year-old Lai will take home the top position, even though his party is probably going to lose the majority in parliament. Strict election laws also essentially prohibit the media from questioning voters on polling day about their particular choices.
In addition to Beijing staging large-scale war simulations in recent years that simulate an island blockade and involve firing missiles into Taiwan’s surrounding waters, Chinese warplanes and naval ships virtually daily inspect the island’s defenses. Announcing its intention to “take all necessary measures to firmly crush ‘Taiwan independence’ attempts of all forms” the night before the polls, the Chinese military