China threatened to impose further trade sanctions against Taiwan as the island’s pro-independence ruling party continues to lead in the polls ahead of the Jan. 13 presidential election.
Last week, China announced it was ending tariff cuts on some chemical imports from Taiwan, leading Taipei to accuse Beijing of election interference just weeks ahead of a vote that will define its future relationship with China.
Candidates pitch themselves as best options to assure peace
The Democratic Progressive Party’s William Lai Ching-te, Taiwan’s current vice president, is currently leading in the polls. His opponent, the mayor of New Taipei City, has sought to cast Lai as ardently pro-independence, which he argues is sure to lead to war. China’s latest statement that it could impose more tariffs if Lai insists on a pro-independence stance is “the first official confirmation from Beijing that political considerations were behind” the recent trade announcements, the South China Morning Post wrote.
What does Taiwanese grouper have to do with the presidential election?
Chinese leader Xi Jinping recently reiterated his stance that the “reunification” of Taiwan with China is “inevitable.” Beijing, which sees the island as a breakaway province, announced last week that it is also lifting an import ban on Taiwanese-raised grouper fish, saying an appeal from the opposition party is responsible for the move. In this case, removing trade restrictions is part of a “carrot-and-stick strategy designed to shake up Taiwanese politics and promote the rise of a China-friendly administration in Taiwan,” Nikkei Asia reported.
It’s not all about China
Despite all the headlines about China defining Taiwan’s election, other, more domestic topics are also on voters’ minds. That includes controversy over whether Lai’s childhood home was illegally expanded by his family in an old coal mining area, and whether farmland owned by a third-party candidate was illegally turned into a parking lot. A vice presidential candidate also came under fire for saying during a debate that “when I was young, everyone loved to drink Johnnie Walker,” a comment seen by some as out of touch.