Taiwan voters reject same-sex marriage

Beijing has intensified pressure on Taiwan under Tsai

Beijing has intensified pressure on Taiwan under Tsai, upping military drills, poaching diplomatic allies and successfully convincing global businesses to list Taiwan as part of China on their websites.

Since Taiwan held its first direct presidential election in 1996, Beijing's authoritarian regime has sought to influence political parties into adopting more Beijing-friendly policies.

Taiwan's ruling party was handed a major defeat in local elections Saturday that were seen as a referendum on the administration of the island's independence-leaning president amid growing economic and political pressure from China.

Wins in the southern city of Kaohsiung, which had been held by the DPP for 20 years, and Taichung were significant. The DPP now only controls six cities and counties to the Kuomintang's 15.

The referendums come as an extra headache for Tsai and her ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which faces strong challenges in major seats.

The spokesman said Taiwan's democratic institutions continued to serve as a role model for the entire region, and the USA looked forward to finding new ways to highlight Taiwan's positive example.

A referendum proposing to change the name under which Taiwan competes at worldwide sports events, which has already angered China, was defeated by 5.5 million votes, with 4.6 million in favor.




But some Chinese experts said the polls focused on bread-and-butter issues and the results do not show a shift in sentiment towards reunification with the mainland. "We should be humble and embrace people's higher demands".

With the conservative vote passing the threshold of 25% of eligible electors, under referendum law the government must take steps to reflect the result.

As for public sentiment regarding Taiwan's relations with China, Taiwanese online media Up Media, in an opinion article published on November 25, pointed out that neither DPP nor KMT candidates mentioned at length their positions with regard to their China policy, indicating that there is a consensus among the general Taiwanese public that unification with China isn't an option.

Following the drubbing the DPP took on Saturday, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Sunday stepped down as Chairwoman of the Democratic Progressive Party, while Premier William Lai (賴清德) offered to resign as Prime Minister and Chen Chu (陳菊) offered to resign as Presidential Secretary-General. China has stepped up military exercises in the Taiwan Strait, and put in measures to inflict economic pain on the island, such as restricting the flow of mainland tourists.

Such was the case for KMT mayoral candidate Han Kuo-yu, who took DPP stronghold Kaohsiung, he told Guancha.cn, a news portal.

But some voters say worsening relations with Beijing have harmed business, while others believe she has been too conciliatory. Taiwan has functioned as a sovereign state since the Second World War but China insists that it is a rebel province. While the International Olympic Committee had already ruled out a name change, the vote was seen as a test to gauge support on the island for independence.

"The defeat certainly harms Tsai's chances in 2020", said Shih Cheng-feng, a political analyst at Taiwan's National Dong Hwa University, who attributed the results to "widespread public discontent" over the domestic reforms. The referendum result means a new law will need to be passed to achieve marriage equality.

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