Taipei mayor to form political party in challenge to Taiwan president

Reuters Taipei Aug 01, 2019, 10.13 AM(IST)

Taipei mayoral candidate Ko Wen-je. Photograph:( Reuters )

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The self-ruled island is also set to hold its presidential election in January at a time of precarious relations with China, which considers it a wayward province and has never ruled out the use of force to bring it under Beijing`s control

The mayor of Taipei said on Thursday he will form a political party to run in Taiwan`s 2020 elections, a move that could complicate President Tsai Ing-wen`s re-election and shake up the political landscape amid heightened tension with China. 

Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je said he will set up the Taiwanese People`s Party in early August in a bid to run in legislative elections in January. 

The self-ruled island is also set to hold its presidential election in January at a time of precarious relations with China, which considers it a wayward province and has never ruled out the use of force to bring it under Beijing`s control.

Ko, who advocates closer cross-strait ties and is known for his colourful comments about Taiwan politics, said he will decide whether to run in the highly competitive presidential race by early September. 

"It`s not important whether I run (for the president) or not. What matters is the well-being of the people," Ko told reporters in Taipei. 

Another who could complicate Tsai`s bid for re-election is Foxconn founder Terry Gou.

Gou lost the presidential nomination for the China-friendly opposition Kuomintang (KMT) last month but has not announced whether he will run as an independent in 2020.

A mayor from the island`s south won the KMT`s nomination for the presidential election, issuing a direct challenge to Tsai.

The Taiwan president is facing criticism over her party`s reform agenda amid rising diplomatic and military pressure from Beijing.

China said on Wednesday it will stop issuing individual travel permits to Chinese citizens for travel to Taiwan, a blow to the island`s tourism industry.

China`s military is also holding exercises this week in waters near Taiwan, days after Beijing reiterated it was ready to fight if there was any move towards independence for Taiwan.