China wants to keep pro-independence voting from dominating the upcoming Taiwan election and is using means more subtle than launching missiles over Taiwan as China did in 1996:
Travel subsidies are a likely more effective tool for Beijing. Chinese airlines now offer heavily discounted tickets for Taiwanese expats to return from China to vote. Among more than 1 million Taiwanese living and working in China, analysts estimate that 210,000 did so in 2012. Most were business people who support the KMT, say observers.
Now, with Nov. 29 around the corner, the travel deals are back. Airfares between China and Taiwan for the week before the poll are discounted by as much as 50 percent, says Joseph Wu, secretary-general of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Mr. Wu points out that since most of these airlines are state-run, the cheap tickets are essentially Chinese government subsidies for Taiwanese to support the KMT.
Taiwan should broadcast their sincerest thanks to China for their help in allowing Taiwanese citizens to exercise their freedom to vote.
Imagine the messsage the Chinese people would get: who governs in Taiwan is important to China; and who governs in Taiwan is decided by Taiwanese people.
And perhaps announce that Taiwan will return the favor for Chinese living in Taiwan if they wish to vote in Chinese elections.
Of course, even if Taiwan doesn't do this, every Chinese citizen on the mainland who knows those Taiwanese living in China will know that they are going home to vote.
Perhaps these Chinese friends and acquaintances will come to understand the importance of freedom to Taiwanese--and to those who live in Hong Kong for that matter--and wonder what it would be like to be free and choose their own rulers.
And wonder why China's government helps Taiwanese to vote for their leaders but does not allow Chinese the same right.