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China on minds of Taiwan's voters

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Voters were deciding today whether to stick with a party that has struggled to improve ties with rival China or switch to one promising peace with the island's giant neighbor.

Just two weeks ago, opposition candidate Ma Ying-jeou seemed ready to cruise to victory, promising to improve relations with China and work toward a common market.

But ruling party candidate Frank Hsieh appears to have been closing the gap, using the last day of campaigning to fan outrage over China's crackdown in Tibet.

Hsieh warns the crackdown could be replicated in Taiwan, which split from the mainland in 1949. Beijing still considers the island part of its territory and has threatened to attack if Taiwan rejects unification.

"If Ma is elected, Taiwan's future will be in danger," Hsieh told a cheering crowd at a rally Friday in the southern city of Chiayi.

>>fast facts

Election issues

The voters: More than 17-million Taiwanese age 20 or older are eligible to vote in today's election. Turnout in the last presidential election, in 2004, was 80 percent.

The choices: Voters will choose between Frank Hsieh of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and the Nationalist Party's Ma Ying-jeou.

At stake: The main issue in the election is Taiwan's relationship with Communist China, from which it split amid civil war in 1949. Ma sees closer commercial relations between the sides as a way of jump-starting the economy, and also wants to negotiate a peace treaty with Beijing.

Hsieh subscribes to the DPP's pro-Taiwan independence line. He too wants to tighten commercial ties with China, though at a slower pace than Ma.

China on minds of Taiwan's voters 03/21/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:45am]
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