Taiwan voters must choose between mainland and patriotism

China trying to swing voters away from island’s ruling president, say officials

Taiwanese will  vote in a referendum to see if the self-ruled island should compete in international sports events  as Taiwan instead of  Chinese Taipei. Photograph: EPA/David Chang

Taiwanese will vote in a referendum to see if the self-ruled island should compete in international sports events as Taiwan instead of Chinese Taipei. Photograph: EPA/David Chang

 

Officials in self-ruled Taiwan have vowed to defend themselves against what they say are efforts by mainland China to swing voters away from the ruling president Tsai Ing-wen in local elections on the island this weekend.

Taiwanese will also vote in a referendum to see if the self-ruled island should compete in international sports events – including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics – as “Taiwan” instead of the current name “Chinese Taipei”. The referendum needs one-quarter of Taiwan’s 19 million voters to be approved.

The re-established Republic of China has never been recognised by the mainland, and is officially the People’s Republic of China. After a long period of autocratic, authoritarian rule by the KMT party, the island has become more democratic, has regular elections and is now run by Ms Tsai’s party, the Democratic People’s Party (DPP).

The International Olympic Committee backs China, which will host the 2022 Winter Olympics and hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics.

In recent months, the Chinese have made noises about taking Taiwan back and the Chinese Communist Party accuses the DPP of threatening to declare independence.

Earlier this year, China warned international airlines and hotels not to use the word “Taiwan” on maps or other material.

Even though they defeated their arch enemy KMT in the civil war, the Communists prefer the independence-leaning DPP to the KMT. The KMT last ruled Taiwan from 2008 to 2016, after winning back power from the DPP.

Taiwan blames the Chinese United Front Work as a strategy designed by Beijing for “controlling, mobilising and utilising” non-Chinese Communist Party (CCP) entities to serve its goals, including supporting opposition political parties and spreading disinformation.