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À Taiwan, last weekend end of campaign before the presidential election on January 13

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A supporter of Taiwan presidential candidate Hou Yu-ih holds up a sign reading “we want peace” during a campaign rally.

Agence France-Presse

Tens of thousands of people took part in meetings of three presidential candidates in a city in southern Taiwan on Sunday during the last campaign weekend before the vote scheduled for January 13.

The presidential and legislative elections on January 13 will be particularly scrutinized by China and the United States because of their importance for the future of relations between the #x27;democratic island and Beijing. China, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory, has vowed to seize it by force if necessary.

Front-runner and current Vice President Lai Ching-te of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) called the election a choice between democracy and autocracy.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">His main opponent, Hou Yu-ih, warned that the DPP would bring Taiwan closer to war. The latter is the candidate of the island's Kuomintang (KMT) party, which advocates closer relations with Beijing.

In front of tens of thousands of DPP supporters who came to listen to him in Kaohsiung, in the agricultural south of the country, Mr. Lai on Sunday called on voters to stand side by side with the democratic camp.

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Faced with the threat from China, we must work together and be united, he pleaded.

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Taiwan presidential candidate and current vice president of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Lai Ching-te, is considered the favorite of Taiwan's presidential election.

For the past eight years, Taiwan has been led by President Tsai Ing-wen, a leader hated by Beijing for her fierce defense of the sovereignty of the island.

China has cut off all high-level dialogue with its government and sent unprecedented numbers of fighter jets and warships around Taiwan, making fear conflict.

Once more vocal about independence, a red line for Beijing, Vice President Lai recently put water in his wine on this question.

President Tsai, who came to support him from the podium in front of some 120,000 supporters, said she believes that eight years of hard work cannot be wasted.

Not only does the world now recognize Taiwan, but it is also investing in Taiwan, which means that Taiwan is a safe place. The consensus among the world's democratic countries is to jointly preserve peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

A quote from Tsai Ing-wen, President of Taiwan

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Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. (File photo)

Speaking to a crowd of supporters in red and blue in another part of the city, candidate Hou Yu-ih, a former police officer, called on voters not to be fooled by the ruling DPP.

They love to say that Hou Yu-ih is pro-Chinese and that he will sell Taiwan… Hou Yu-ih will ensure peace between the two sides of the strait, said the 66-year-old candidate, mayor of the city of New Taipei.

His supporters held up signs on Sunday saying Vote KMT, the Taiwan Strait will be free of wars.

A 56-year-old participant, Ou Pei-li, who works in finance, says she fears war with China. I don't want it to look like the war between Ukraine and Russia, she said.

Finally, Ko Wen -je, candidate of the small Taiwan People's Party, which particularly appeals to young people, chaired another rally near downtown Kaohsiung. This election will be a face-off between new policies and old forces, he said.

I believe Taiwan needs of change. I want to try someone different, said Tang Shu-feng, 34.

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