China has issued a warning to voters in Taiwan , urging them to make the “right choice” in the upcoming presidential elections, just two days before the self-ruled island goes to the polls. Beijing, which claims sovereignty over Taiwan, cautioned that a victory for the ruling party candidate, William Lai, could jeopardize relations between the two entities. The Taiwan Affairs office of China criticized the United States for what it referred to as “brazen chattering” after Washington cautioned Beijing against escalating tensions before the election.
The outcome of the election is crucial, as it could either bring Taiwan closer to or further away from Beijing, amid the ongoing power struggle between China and the United States in Asia. The Taiwan Affairs office asserted that if elected, William Lai, a member of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), would intensify separatist activities, pushing Taiwan away from peace and prosperity and closer to the prospect of war and decline.
In response, William Lai has called on voters to “choose the right path” to safeguard Taiwan’s sovereignty. His main opponent, Hou Yu-ih of the Kuomintang (KMT), has labeled Lai as a potential threat to relations with China.
While many Taiwanese identify themselves as part of a distinct nation, a majority support maintaining the status quo where Taiwan neither declares independence nor reunites with China. Taiwan perceives itself as separate from the mainland, while China insists that Taiwan is a breakaway province destined to be part of the country, with the use of force not ruled out to achieve this reunification.
Before the polling halt on January 2, William Lai had a narrow lead in the presidential race. Concurrently, parliamentary elections are also taking place.
China’s warning to Taiwanese voters coincided with its admonition to the United States to refrain from commenting on the election. The Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a sharp rebuke to Washington after the U.S. announced its intention to send an unofficial delegation to Taiwan following the vote. China insisted that the U.S. must avoid intervening in the elections to prevent serious damage to U.S.-China relations.
In response, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu criticized China for its “repeated interference” in Saturday’s vote, urging Beijing to stop meddling in other countries’ elections and focus on its own affairs.