Can I cast a ballot before I die?

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 January, 2012, 12:00am


Mainland media and internet users stepped up their reporting and comments on Taiwan this week in the run-up to today's presidential poll.

State media commented favourably on incumbent 'regional leader' Ma Ying-jeou while denouncing his main rival, Dr Tsai Ing-wen.

Some bloggers expressed admiration for the fact that Taiwan's people are able to vote for their leaders.

'I am 24. Can I cast my ballot for my country's leader before I die?' one asked.

Another said: 'I dreamed of getting Taiwan back when I was young. But now I want the mainland to be 'returned' to Taiwan.

'Don't talk about unification. Taiwan people have a good life and they have their elections. I have not even cast a ballot once.'

One commented that the election set an example for democracy in the Chinese community, no matter who won. But another fired back: 'Setting an example? Have you heard of vote-rigging and political show?'

Another said Taiwan's electoral system had a lot of drawbacks: 'It wastes resources, which indirectly affects economic development.

'The tensions between the pan-blue and pan-green camps also affect government efficiency, leading to a series of social problems.'

The election has triggered discussion about Chinese identity, with one internet user asking on their microblog: 'Is it accurate to say 'almost all Chinese people think Taiwan is part of China?''

One blogger provoked a strong response when a picture was uploaded showing Ma alongside a phrase saying that holders of Republic of China passports can gain visa-free access to 124 countries.

'This kind of election advertisement will definitely hit the nerves of mainland citizens,' came one reply.

Another asked: 'Can I emigrate to Taiwan?'

Filmmaker Cheng Qingsong commented on his microblog that: 'When a country is respected, its people have integrity.'

The State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office said Beijing would not interfere in the election, but state media said Ma was the right candidate.

A commentary in the English-language edition of the Global Times, published by the People's Daily Group, said Tsai lacked the power to carry out her promises.

'Regardless how provocative Tsai might be when dealing with the mainland in order to satisfy the pro-independence fringe among her supporters, sooner rather than later the public would come to understand that she made empty promises during her campaign,' it said.

The website of the newspaper's Chinese-language edition carried special reports on the election, saying Taiwanese citizens were at a crossroads in terms of choosing between unification and independence, and that tensions across the strait would escalate should Tsai win.

The reports said Ma's contributions to cross-strait ties were unprecedented in the past three decades and his economic achievement was outstanding, but he had been weak in settling disputes inside the ruling Kuomintang.

They described Tsai as the mastermind of the 'two states' theory advocated by former Taiwanese leader Lee Teng-hui and said she would push the island closer to the United States and Japan to contain the mainland if elected.

In a report on Thursday, Xinhua quoted Zhou Tienong, vice-chairman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, as saying that cross-strait relations were facing a critical period and both sides should avoid confrontation.