China Reaffirms Non-Interference in Taiwan Presidential Elections

© REUTERS / Olivia HarrisA voter casts her ballot at a polling station during general election in Taipei, Taiwan, January 16, 2016
A voter casts her ballot at a polling station during general election in Taipei, Taiwan, January 16, 2016 - Sputnik International
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China will not interfere in Taiwan’s ongoing presidential elections, Beijing leadership reiterated on Saturday.

BEIJING (Sputnik) – The Chinese State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office Director Zhang Zhijun made a similar pledge in November.

"We have stated earlier that we will not interfere in the conduct of elections in Taiwan," the Chinese language edition of the Global Times daily quoted Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman An Fengshan as saying. "What we are focused on are cross-strait relations."

Over 15,000 precincts have opened for some 18.7 million Taiwanese voters aged 20 and over on Saturday. Polls are scheduled to close at 08:00 GMT.

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Opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Tsai Ing-wen is expected to succeed Ma Ying-jeou, who is prohibited from seeking a third term in office after seven years in power.

Tsai, who has pledged to maintain Taiwan's status quo of de-facto indepdence, is projected to garner 46 percent in the first-past-the-post vote.

China does not recognize Taiwan as an independent entity, which became self-governed in the 1940s after a civil war, citing the one-China principle agreed to in a provisional 1992 consensus.

Zhang warned in a New Year's Eve message that China's relations with Taiwan were headed toward "complicated changes" in 2016.

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