4 things to know about Taiwan's 'crucial' election — and where the U.S. fits in

Taiwan is preparing for a momentous election. TAIPEI, Taiwan — Nearly 20 million voters will head to the polls on Jan. 13 in Taiwan, in a presidential election that analysts say will be “crucial” for the future of the Asian island and its relationships with both the United States and China. Here’s a brief guide to understanding what’s at stake. 1. What is Taiwan, and how does it conduct campaigns? Taiwan is an island (technically, one main island and a collection of small islands) a little bit larger than the state of Maryland, located roughly 100 miles from mainland China. The body of water that separates them is the Taiwan Strait, and the term “cross-strait” is often invoked to refer to the relationship between Taiwan and China. Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) Wuhan Hangzhou East China Sea Taiwan’s ADIZ Yijiangshan Islands: China takes control during First Taiwan Strait Crisis, in 1954-55. CHINA Kinmen Islands and Matsu Islands: Artillery battle and clashes during the Taiwan Strait crises of 1954-55 and 1958. Taipei Xiamen TAIWAN Guangzhou Hong Kong 100 miles Credit: Connie Hanzhang Jin/NPR Only 13 countries in the world recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation. But for the last 30-odd years, the Asian island has been self-governed by a democracy that emerged out of decades of military rule. That young democracy is now cherished by its citizens. In the 2020 election, nearly 75% of eligible Taiwanese voters cast ballots, and Taiwan’s civil society is often ranked as the most open or free in all of Asia. A supporter wears small Taiwan national flags on his hat during an election campaign rally of Kuomintang (KMT) on January 4. Taiwan is known for its colorful campaign election culture. Lev Nachman, a political science scholar at National Chengchi University in Taipei, likened […]

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By Donato