Beijing Vows no Interference in Taiwan's 2016 Presidential Elections
As Taiwan prepares for the 2016 presidential elections, a top Chinese official has assured people of the island that Beijing would not interfere in the process.
On Friday, Fan Liqing, spokesman of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office said Beijing will not get involved in Taiwan's upcoming elections. He also said that China will not pressurize the island's leaders to attend the World War II victory celebrations in Beijing next month.
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Taiwan's leaders have been invited to the events marking China's victory against the Japanese war of aggression. However, it is still unclear if Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou will attend the celebration on Sep. 3.
China has territorial claims over Taiwan and officials have noted that the island ought to be brought under the government of the mainland. The importance of the relationship between China and Taiwan has been highlighted repeatedly in the buildup to the islands' upcoming presidential elections.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the ruling Kuomintang Nationalist party (KMT) have both nominated female candidates for the presidential position.
In April, the DPP nominated 58-year-old Tsai-Ing-wen, a party chairwoman, who proposes a more cautious approach in the relationship with Beijing. Meanwhile, the ruling KMT has nominated 67-year-old Hung Hsiu-chu, a former teacher with a fiery tongue, who is known for her pro-China views.
Most pundits initially postulated that Taiwan would join South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines by becoming the latest Asian countries to elect a female leader.
However, the outcome of the elections may follow a different trajectory after James Soong, chairman of Taiwan's People First Party, announced his candidature on Thursday.
Soong, a former member of the KMT, is running as a candidate to reconcile the country's widening political divide.
Under the tenure of President Ma, Taiwan has witnessed very little confrontation with Beijing. As a resultant, economic cooperation between Taiwan and China has increased.
However, bilateral ties between both nations remain tense. Recently, President Ma told the BBC that there are several stumbling blocks in the relationship between Taiwan and China.
Before Typhoon Soudelor made landfall in the island this week, students were protesting over proposed changes to the nation's high school curriculum. According to the protesters, the move would introduce a pro-China perspective into school textbooks. Last year, under the Sunflower Movement, thousands of students occupied Taiwan's legislature for weeks. The students were protesting against a trade pact with China.