Chinese interference anticipated in Taiwanese local elections and referenda vote

Chinese interference anticipated in Taiwanese local elections and referenda vote

Today, local elections will be held across Taiwan; an unprecedented 10 referendum questions will be on the ballot. The island-wide

Supporters of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) wave to candidates during a campaign rally for the local elections, in Taipei

Photo: Reuters/Tyrone Siu

Today, local elections will be held across Taiwan; an unprecedented 10 referendum questions will be on the ballot.

The island-wide vote will cover seats from the village level upwards, and referendum questions range from changing the official name Taiwan uses at sporting events to deciding questions of gay rights.

Regardless of the results of today’s elections, all eyes will be on China, which is highly suspected of having launched a Russian-style influence campaign. Taiwanese and outside observers have accused Beijing of taking advantage of the current chaotic state of Taiwanese domestic politics to sow political disunity and advance Beijing’s interest in weakening Ms Ing-wen’s government. The Chinese government believes a politically divided Taiwan will make it easier for China to assert both its economic and political interests on the island, which encompass depriving Taiwan of its anti-Chinese national identity both in its economy and its political composition.

China’s influence plan, if indeed actualised, could potentially backfire. Taiwanese consciousness of a concerted Chinese attempt to “divide and conquer” the island could have the opposite effect of uniting Taiwan against an obvious, common threat to its sovereignty.

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