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Supporters of opposition party KMT wearing t-shirts with the Taiwan flag at an election rally in Taoyuan.

REUTERS/Ann Wang

What We’re Watching: Taiwanese election, Trump's taxes, South African protests, ugly economic forecast

As Taiwan votes, China watches

Taiwanese go to the polls Saturday to vote in the first election since early 2020, when President Tsai Ing-wen won a second term in office right before COVID erupted. This time it’s only a local election, but as with anything political in Taiwan, China is paying close attention. Beijing is bullish on the pro-China KMT party, which is leading the polls in several key races. (Fun fact: the KMT mayoral candidate for the capital, Taipei, is the great-grandson of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, the founder of modern Taiwan.) A good overall result for the KMT would mean two things. First, it would buck historical trends — and China's declining popularity among Taiwanese — if voters sour on the ruling anti-China DPP party just months after China responded with its biggest-ever show of military force to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visiting the island. Second, it raises the stakes for the DPP ahead of the presidential election in 2024, when the popular but term-limited Tsai needs a strong candidate for the party to stay in power. Alternatively, if polls are wrong and the DPP does well, expect fire and fury from across the Taiwan Strait.

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At the Beijing shore, China’s leaders muse Taiwan

This week, the crème de la crème of China’s ruling Communist Party wrapped up its annual summer retreat at the coastal resort town of Beidaihe, east of Beijing. The closed-door, low-key gathering was this year supposed to be just another milestone before the 20th Party Congress in the fall, when Xi Jinping is expected to secure a norm-defying third term as CCP secretary-general.

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A model of the Chinese fighter aircraft seen in front of Chinese and Taiwanese flags.

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

As China aims to change Taiwan’s status quo, US does damage control

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial trip last week to show solidarity with democratic Taiwan made more than a splash.

China’s unprecedented live-fire military exercises have changed the status quo of how far it can breach into territory that the self-governing island controls. Meanwhile, the US tried to manage the crisis without ruffling more feathers, Taipei pushed back with its own war games, and the wider region braced for impact.

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Paige Fusco

The Graphic Truth: Who trades with Taiwan?

China and Taiwan are longtime foes: Beijing is committed to reunifying the island with the rest of mainland China, while Taipei desperately wants to retain its self-governance. And in recent days, Beijing has demonstrated its willingness to use military force to safeguard its national security interests. Despite the bad blood, Taiwan and China are closely intertwined, maintaining robust trade and people-to-people ties. Beijing remains Taipei’s largest trade partner by far, accounting for nearly one-third of all Taiwan’s exports. It’s for this reason that recently imposed economic sanctions on Taiwan by China stand to really hurt the self-governing island.

Chinese military exercises near Taiwan

Koki Kataoka / The Yomiuri Shimbun via Reuters Connect

China goes ballistic at Taiwan

China fired on Thursday multiple conventional ballistic missiles near Taiwan for the first time since 1996.

The launch was part of the largest-ever live-fire drills by the Chinese military in the area in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to the self-governing island earlier this week. Beijing says the missiles hit their targets inside the "exclusion zones" the People's Liberation Army set up in waters surrounding Taiwan after Pelosi confirmed her trip.

The Taiwanese military activated its missile defense systems and scrambled fighter jets. Taipei also claims that Chinese fighter jets and warships briefly crossed the Taiwan Strait demarcation line into its airspace and territorial waters, and that several government websites have suffered cyberattacks. Many international flights in and out of the island have been cancelled.

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US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi meets with Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei.

EYEPRESS via Reuters Connect

As Pelosi tours Taiwan, China flexes its military muscle

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi doubled down Wednesday on America’s support for Taiwan during her controversial visit to the self-governing island, to which China responded with the biggest show of military force since the last major US-China standoff over Taiwan 25 years ago.

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A reporter raises a hand to ask a question to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Washington, DC.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Will she, won’t she? The fallout from Pelosi’s Taiwan talk

Nancy Pelosi’s office announced Sunday that the US House speaker will be going this week to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, and Japan. But no mention of Taiwan, even after she met Singaporean officials on Monday.

This doesn’t necessarily mean she’s skipping her previously announced intention to tour the self-governing island of 24 million claimed by China. Perhaps the stopover was left out of her finalized itinerary anyway due to “security concerns” following threats from Beijing and the cold shoulder from the Pentagon and the White House.

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A demonstrator holds a sign at a rally against Russia's invasion of Ukraine in Taipei.

REUTERS/Ann Wang

Taiwan is not Ukraine

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has spurred a lot of speculation about whether China, Russia's most powerful friend, may soon feel emboldened to use force to achieve its decades-long dream of annexing Taiwan. Eurasia Group analyst Neil Thomas disagrees, seeing no signs of increased urgency in China’s plans for the self-governing island. We asked him to explain.

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