China and its growing pressure campaign loom large as Taiwan holds elections for mayors and other local officials Saturday, in what is partly seen as a referendum on the policies of independence-leaning President Tsai Ing-wen.

The opposition Nationalists are counting on their pro-business image and a more accommodating line toward Beijing, which detests Tsai for her refusal to endorse its stance that the self-governing island democracy is part of the Chinese nation.

In this Nov. 21, 2018, photo, Nationalist Party's Kaohsiung mayoral candidate in blue, Han Kuo-yu, reacts to supporters during a rally in Kaohsiung, central Taiwan. China and its growing pressure campaign loom large as Taiwan holds elections for mayors and other local officials Saturday, in what is partly seen as a referendum on the policies of independence-leaning President Tsai Ing-wen. (AP Photo)
In this Nov. 21, 2018, photo, Nationalist Party’s Kaohsiung mayoral candidate in blue, Han Kuo-yu, reacts to supporters during a rally in Kaohsiung, central Taiwan. China and its growing pressure campaign loom large as Taiwan holds elections for mayors and other local officials Saturday, in what is partly seen as a referendum on the policies of independence-leaning President Tsai Ing-wen. (AP Photo)

Key races include mayorships in the capital Taipei and southern port of Kaohsiung.

Since her election in 2016, Tsai has walked a fine line on relations with China, maintaining Taiwan’s de facto independent status that the vast majority of Taiwanese support, while avoiding calls for formal separation. But she’s also emphasized the importance of Taiwan’s sovereignty.

Source: The Associated Press