Taiwanese have begun voting in midterm local elections seen as a referendum on the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen, amid growing pressure from the island’s powerful rival China.

The elections that follow Tsai’s landslide victory in 2016 will decide the races for 22 mayors and county magistrates along with thousands of local officials.

Driven from power two years ago, the opposition Nationalists hope to regain territory by counting on their pro-business image and a more accommodating line toward Beijing.

Since her election in 2016, Tsai has maintained Taiwan’s de facto independent status while avoiding calls to declare formal separation from the mainland.

China has been ratcheting-up pressure on the island it claims as its own territory by poaching away its diplomatic partners, cutting official contacts and staging threatening military exercises.

Source: The Associated Press