China seeks to affect Taiwan poll, says candidate

China still regards Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

Taipei: The presidential candidate for Taiwan`s opposition said on Tuesday that China is actively exerting its influence to prevent her from winning elections in January.

The anti-China Democratic Progressive Party is "concerned" about Beijing`s influence and is currently assessing its potential impact on the polls, said candidate Tsai Ing-wen.

"Of course, I`m not their preferred candidate. That`s pretty obvious," she told foreign reporters at a press conference in Taipei.

"China has a lot of ways to (wield) influence. If you were a Chinese authority, are you not tempted to exercise your influence here?" she said, speaking in English.

She said it was "no secret" that China could influence Taiwanese voters through the close economic links between the two sides.

"We have so many investors in China, and we have people working in China as well, and students as well."

Tsai did not offer further details on the nature of the influence, but also referred to reports that young Taiwanese people studying in China were offered cheap air tickets to go home and vote.

"It`s something that requires continued observation and monitoring as well. It`s something we`re concerned about," she said.

"We`re still making an assessment as to what extent this Chinese influence would affect the election here."

The party earlier this month accused hackers backed by the Chinese state of stealing information related to its presidential campaign, saying it had traced more than a dozen cyber attacks to Chinese IP addresses.

Tsai, who is running against incumbent Ma Ying-jeou, would become Taiwan`s first ever female president if elected for a four-year term in January.

Ma, of the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang, took power in 2008 and has since focused on improving trade and tourism ties with the mainland.

Taiwan has governed itself since 1949 at the end of a civil war, but China still regards it as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

Bureau Report

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