As Taiwan's presidential candidates scoured the island yesterday for last-minute votes, most people in Guangzhou were oblivious to the poll. Residents in Shenzhen and Guangzhou said the election had not stirred much interest because there had been little media coverage in the past month. Some said they did not know that Kuomintang candidate Ma Ying-jeou's rival in the race was Frank Hsieh Chang-ting of the Democratic Progressive Party. At Tianya.cn, a popular mainland electronic bulletin board service, few netizens discussed the Taiwan election or the presidential candidates. Tang Hao , a politics professor at South China Normal University in Guangzhou, put the ignorance down to the media's silence. 'But it's wise to be cautious about the election. Any harsh comments published in the mainland media could be used by the pro-independence camp as ammunition to gain votes, as we have learned from previous Taiwan polls,' the professor said. Shi Yinhong , an international affairs researcher from Beijing's Renmin University, said the mainland had a clear standpoint. 'The mainland can observe the vote ... but we will never intervene,' Mr Shi told Phoenix satellite TV. Southern Metropolis News, which has a circulation of 1.5 million in Guangdong province, published five stories about US Democratic presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton in the past week but little on the Taiwan election. Its most recent report on the island's poll was published last Saturday, citing reports from Taiwanese media. Major mainland television stations and leading websites have also been quiet. Xinhuanet and China's top internet portal, Sina.com, have relegated stories on the race to inconspicuous corners and most articles cite Taiwanese newspapers, rather than offering any commentary. Some residents in Guangzhou and Shenzhen have been able to keep up with the election by watching Hong Kong news reports. But there have been complaints that cable TV service providers have cut footage of candidates voicing opinions that differ from Beijing's. Professor Tang said academics, students and businessmen in Guangzhou were interested in the election's outcome. 'Politics students in my class recently voted it as the issue that interested them the most. Businessmen are also paying close attention to the vote, which could give cross-strait relations and businesses a hefty boost,' he said.