cloudyn.png
Wednesday February 19th, 2020 11:10PM

Vote counting begins in Taiwan's presidential election

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — The future of Taiwan’s democracy was on the line Saturday as the self-ruled island voted on whether to give independence-leaning President Tsai Ing-wen a second term.

Polls were closed at 4 p.m. with counting beginning shortly afterward. Results were expected in the evening.

Tsai was leading her closest challenger, Han Kuo-yu of the Nationalist Party, in very preliminary results reported by Taiwanese television news stations.

Taiwan has developed its own identity since separating from China during civil war in 1949 but has never declared formal independence. Beijing still claims sovereignty over the island of 23 million people and threatens to use force to seize control if necessary.

Leo Chang, a 22-year-old first-time voter in the southern city of Kaohsiung, said he cares more about China policy than pocketbook issues.

“This is what the younger generation cares about," he said. “Honestly, I don’t know much about economy, because I am not yet working. But I do care about the Taiwan consciousness.”

Han voted in Kaohsiung, where he is mayor. A third-party candidate, James Soong, also ran but had virtually no chance of winning.

“I hope every citizen can come out and vote," Tsai said after casting her vote in Taipei, the capital. “You should exercise your rights to make democracy stronger in Taiwan."

For many in Taiwan, months of anti-government protests in Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Chinese territory, have driven home the contrast between their democratically governed island and authoritarian, communist-ruled mainland China.

Tsai said at a final campaign rally Friday night that the election was a chance to protect Taiwan's democracy.

“Let us tell the world with our own votes that Taiwanese are determined to defend sovereignty, determined to guard democracy and determined to persist in reforms,” she said.

The Nationalist Party's Han has said Taiwan should be more open to negotiations with China, in contrast to Tsai, who has dismissed Beijing's overtures. At his last rally, attended by hundreds of thousands of people in the southern port city of Kaohsiung, he focused on practical issues such as improving education and the economy.

“I want to attract massive investments. I want products to be exported nonstop,” he said.

The Hong Kong protests have undermined support in Taiwan for the “one country, two systems” approach Beijing has championed for governing both that former British colony and Taiwan.

Fears of Chinese interference in Taiwan’s politics and an uptick in the economy helped Tsai regain an edge after a dire electoral setback for her Democratic Progressive Party, or DPP, 14 months ago.

“The reason why I vote for her is for upholding the value of Taiwan's freedom and democracy and that should not be affected by the other side of the strait (China),” Lucy Ting, a college student, said at Tsai's rally on Friday.

One Kaohsiung voter said that education was on her mind.

“As a parent, I feel that education policies are constantly changing," said Mary Huang, 48, who works in construction. “I don’t know how to deal with this situation. ... The trends of exams are changing every year, so I am wondering if this could be more stable.”

The Nationalists have struggled to find candidates who can fire up their pro-China supporters and win over young Taiwanese who increasingly favor the DPP.

Still, the election of former lawmaker Han as Kaohsiung’s mayor in December 2018 helped to re-energize the Nationalists, who lost their hold on power four years ago.

Shortly after taking office, Han traveled to China to sign deals to sell 5.2 billion New Taiwan dollars ($165 million) worth of Taiwanese agricultural products. He also met with leading officials for relations with Taiwan, including the head of the Cabinet’s Taiwan Affairs Office, Liu Jieyi, and ranking Communist Party officials in Hong Kong.

That reinforced his image as a candidate backed by and friendly to Beijing. While Han was not expected to win, his party was fighting hard to overturn the DPP's majority in the 113-seat parliament, officially known as the Legislative Yuan.

A win by Tsai is anticipated to draw more diplomatic, economic and military pressure from Beijing on the island, in a continuation of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s campaign to compel her administration to endorse its insistence that Taiwan is a part of China.

Tsai has refused to do so, maintaining that Beijing has no claim over Taiwan, although her government has repeatedly called for the reopening of talks between the sides without preconditions.

Since its transition to full democracy beginning in the 1980s, Taiwan has increasingly asserted its independent identity from China even though it is not recognized by the United Nations or any major nation.

The island of more than 23 million people exercises all the roles of a sovereign nation, issuing its own passports, maintaining its own military and legal system and serving as a crucial hub in the global high-tech supply chain.

If reelected, Tsai will face challenges in trying to reform the government and economy and push through unpopular cuts in generous civil service pensions.

___

Associated Press journalists Ken Moritsugu and Yves Dam Van contributed to this report. Taijing Wu in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, also contributed.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top General short headlines, AP Elections, General Presidential Election News, AP World News
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Vote counting begins in Taiwan's presidential election
Vote counting has begun in Taiwan’s presidential election
3:38AM ( 3 minutes ago )
Under pressure, Iran admits it shot down jetliner by mistake
Iran says its forces accidentally shot down the Ukrainian jetliner that crashed earlier this week, killing all 176 aboard
3:05AM ( 37 minutes ago )
N Korea: Trump's birthday greet not enough to resume talks
A North Korean official says the U.S. and South Korea are dreaming if they think that President Donald Trump's sending a birthday message would get leader Kim Jong Un back to the negotiating table
2:48AM ( 54 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
White House considering dramatic expansion of travel ban
The Trump administration is considering dramatically expanding its much-litigated travel ban to additional countries
12:52AM ( 2 hours ago )
Andrew Yang won the internet. But can he win a caucus?
After months of running on unconventional campaign strategies, Andrew Yang has arrived at a point in the 2020 campaign that is governed by the conventional rules of election
12:37AM ( 3 hours ago )
Biden slams Trump on Iran policy, says he hurt US interests
Former Vice President Joe Biden is blaming President Donald Trump's withdrawal from a nuclear agreement with Iran in 2018 for the current instability in the Middle East. Biden used a rally in northern Nevada Friday night to tout his own foreign policy experience as a key reason he's the Democrat with the best chance to unseat Trump in November
12:25AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Elections
White House considers expanding travel ban to more countries
The White House is considering expanding its much-litigated travel ban to additional countries amid a renewed election-year focus by President Donald Trump on immigration issues
2:50PM ( 12 hours ago )
Spiritual guru Marianne Williamson ends 2020 White House bid
The Democratic presidential race has lost another candidate
1:00PM ( 14 hours ago )
Bloomberg to speak at voting rights summit hosted by Abrams
Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg is speaking privately at Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams' voting rights summit
12:57PM ( 14 hours ago )
General Presidential Election News
Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who modernized Oman, dies at 79
State media say Oman's ruler Sultan Qaboos bin Said has died at the age of 79
1:59AM ( 1 hour ago )
Trump ups Iran accusations, says 4 US embassies targeted
The explanations for what sparked this week’s U.S. military action in the Middle East keep evolving
1:35AM ( 2 hours ago )
Iran acknowledges accidentally downing Ukrainian jetliner
Iran says its forces accidentally shot down the Ukrainian jetliner that crashed earlier this week, killing all 176 aboard
12:55AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP World News
Under pressure, Iran admits it shot down jetliner by mistake
Iran says its forces accidentally shot down the Ukrainian jetliner that crashed earlier this week, killing all 176 aboard
3:05AM ( 37 minutes ago )
N Korea: Trump's birthday greet not enough to resume talks
A North Korean official says the U.S. and South Korea are dreaming if they think that President Donald Trump's sending a birthday message would get leader Kim Jong Un back to the negotiating table
2:48AM ( 54 minutes ago )
Conners takes hard, rewarding road to Hawaii
Being at the Sony Open reminds Corey Conners how far he has come
2:44AM ( 57 minutes ago )
Djokovic's win over Medvedev puts Serbia into ATP Cup final
Novak Djokovic has beaten Daniil Medvedev 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 to secure Serbia's win over Russia and a spot in the final of the new ATP Cup
2:41AM ( 1 hour ago )
Oman names culture minister as successor to Sultan Qaboos
Oman announced Saturday that culture minister Haitham bin Tariq Al Said has been named as the new ruler of the country and the successor to Sultan Qaboos
2:41AM ( 1 hour ago )