Taiwan ‘will resist’ China interference in election: Presidential frontrunner

TAIPEI: The Taiwanese people “will resist” China’s attempts to influence the island’s Jan 13 election, frontrunner presidential candidate Lai Ching-te told AFP on Wednesday (Jan 3) as he hit the campaign trial 10 days before the pivotal poll.

Beijing claims the self-ruled island as part of its territory, and rejects the stance of Lai’s Democratic Progressive Party which maintains that Taiwan is “already independent”.

Dubbed a “troublemaker” and a “separatist” by Beijing, Lai is up against two other candidates who have pledged closer relations with China if elected.

Speaking to AFP after a morning of greeting supporters at a busy Taipei intersection, he said that “the democratic camp is very concerned” about alleged election interference from China.

“This is Asia’s first election this year, and China’s interference in Taiwan’s election is very, very serious,” said the 64-year-old, who is also Taiwan’s vice president.

But Lai has “confidence in the people because Taiwan has gone from the dark age of authoritarianism to where it is today”.

“Everyone cherishes Taiwan’s democracy. I have confidence that the people will resist China’s use of various forces to try to influence this election,” he said.

Taiwan’s Jan 13 election is being closely watched by policymakers from Beijing to Washington, as its outcome could reshape future relations with an increasingly bellicose China.

The other two candidates are Hou Yu-ih of Beijing-friendly Kuomintang (KMT), Taiwan’s oldest political party, and Ko Wen-je of the emerging Taiwan People’s Party – which has performed above expectations.

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