China is intervening in Taiwan's elections "every day" as they seek to damage the island's democracy, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said.
The election campaign, which is also for Taiwan's legislature, has now kicked into high gear, and is being closely watched by Taiwan's giant neighbour China, which claims Taiwan as sacred Chinese territory, to be brought under Beijing's control by force if needed.
China on Sunday (November 17) sailed an aircraft carrier group through the sensitive Taiwan Strait, the same day Tsai announced her running mate, former premier William Lai who has angered Beijing with his pro-independence comments.
Tsai, speaking after formally registering to run for re-election, said the vote was happening at a crucial time, as China's pressure grows against the backdrop of anti-government protests in Chinese-run Hong Kong.
China is believed to strongly favor Tsai’s main opponent in the race, Han Kuo-yu of the Beijing-friendly Nationalist Party.
Since she took office in 2016, Beijing has sought to undermine Tsai’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party government with increasing diplomatic and economic pressure.
Self-governing Taiwan split from China in 1949 and transitioned to a full democracy in the 1990s.