Friday Briefing

A rally for the Democratic Progressive Party in Taipei, Taiwan.Credit…Mike Kai Chen for The New York Times

What’s at stake in Taiwan’s election

Voters in Taiwan will elect a new president and legislature tomorrow, a much-watched process that could affect the island’s relations with China and the U.S.

China claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has demanded unification, which the island democracy has rejected. The tensions over Taiwan are one of the most divisive issues between Beijing and Washington.

Chris Buckley, a correspondent for The New York Times who is based in Taipei and reports on China and Taiwan, discussed the stakes of the election. Here’s what you need to know.

Why is this election important?

Chris: This election could have important consequences for one of the world’s most difficult and volatile territorial disputes — the future of Taiwan.

The presidential candidates from the two main political parties — the Democratic Progressive Party and the Nationalist Party — both reject the Chinese Communist Party’s framework for unification, called “one country, two systems.” But there are important differences in how they propose to deal with Beijing.

Lai Ching-te, the Democratic Progressive Party’s candidate, has promised to keep China at arm’s length. China would most likely step up pressure on Taiwan if he wins. Hou Yu-ih, the Nationalist Party candidate, says he will reduce tensions with China by expanding cross-strait trade and contacts. China would most likely reduce pressure — for a while at least — if he wins, but could also raise expectations of concessions.

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