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Asia Minute: Taiwan’s Presidential Race Fast Approaching

AP Photo/Wally Santana

The United States is not the only government headed for a presidential election next year. In just over three weeks, voters in Taiwan will go to the polls to choose a leader.

There are a number of issues up for debate in Taiwan’s presidential campaign. But there’s one that overshadows all the others: the relationship with the government in Beijing.

Incumbent Tsai Ing Wen has been in office since 2016, and has been steady in her support of an independent Taiwan.

This week, Tsai compared Taiwan’s situation with that of Hong Kong — saying conditions there make it “very clear to all of us that democracy and authoritarianism are in conflict.”

She added, “the two systems cannot coexist in one country.”

Tsai leads the field of three candidates with the leader of the main opposition party, Han Kuo-yu her closest rival.

Han favors closer relations with Beijing — a position that has been increasingly unpopular in Taiwan, especially as protests against the government have continued in Hong Kong.

Veteran politician James Soong Chu-yu also favors eventual reunification with Beijing.

Voters will get to see the candidates in a variety of forums before election day.

This week, the three gave televised policy presentations without interacting with each other — an event that will be repeated two more times. And on December 29th, the three will debate each other in an event jointly organized by four TV stations, four newspapers and Taiwan’s Central News Agency.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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