Jan 14 - Taiwanese head to polls in presidential elections, with economic woes and relations with China weighing heavily in voters' minds. Michaela Cabrera reports.
Taiwanese head to the polls on Saturday to vote for their next president. A high turnout is expected, and the race is neck-and-neck between incumbent president Ma Ying-jeou and opposition leader Tsai Ing-wen. Voters were queuing in polling stations early in the morning, many saying that foremost in their minds is the economy. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) VOTER CHUE-CHEN YU-CHEN SAYING: "I hope our next president can take us to a better place, make our life better and our social services better. We don't want such a great rich-poor divide. That way we can all benefit." This election is viewed as a referendum on the establishment of harmonious ties with China, shepherded by Ma over the last four years. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) VOTER KO CHAO-PING SAYING: "If relations between Taiwan and China are not good then this affects politics, the economy, and it makes people worry as they feel unsafe. So peace across the Taiwan Strait is the most important issue of this election." Taiwan's 18 million eligible voters will also choose members of the parliament, who will be crucial in expediting or stalling future policies. The election is being closely watched by China and the United States, as they look to maintain stability in the region, with both superpowers set for a political transition this year. Michaela Cabrera, Reuters.