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An early advance for the Taiwan president in an election closely followed by Beijing

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Taiwan President Tsai Ingwin is leading in a presidential election closely watched by China in light of the anti-government protests in Hong Kong, an early counting showed on Saturday.

The count, conducted by three Taiwanese TV stations, indicated that Cai was ahead of her main opponent, Han Kuo Yu, who belongs to the opposition Kuomintang (Chinese National Party) party with more than 500,000 votes, an hour after polling stations closed at 4:00 pm (0800 GMT).

Final results are expected to be announced by Saturday evening. Tsai is scheduled to hold a press conference at 8:00 pm (1200 GMT).

The issues of China, of which Taiwan is a part, and turmoil in Hong Kong have become major issues in the elections, while Beijing has stepped up efforts to push Taiwan to accept its rule through military intimidation at times and by presenting the model (one country, two systems) at other times.

This model, which allows for a great deal of autonomy similar to the situation in Hong Kong, is not well accepted by Tsai and her opponent, Han, whose party favors close ties with China.

Tsai cast her voice in Taipei and later spoke briefly to reporters, expressing her hope that everyone would have exercised their electoral rights and that the process go smoothly. Only Taiwan people have the right to decide their own future, Cai said, denouncing China for seeking to influence the election through misinformation and hints such as crossing the latest aircraft carrier with the Taiwan Strait ahead of the election. China denies meddling in the election.

Han says he will reset ties with China to boost Taiwan’s economy, but he will not give up defending its democracy.

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