Tainan mayoral contender warns against funding from China

Tainan DPP mayoral primary is most expensive in party's history: Lee Chun-yi

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Lee Chun-yi (third from right) with the other DPP primary hopefuls for Tainan City mayor at a TV debate with host (center).

Lee Chun-yi (third from right) with the other DPP primary hopefuls for Tainan City mayor at a TV debate with host (center). (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – With politicians gearing up for the November 24 local elections, Tainan City mayoral contender Lee Chun-yi (李俊毅) has warned that China might try to influence the outcome by funding certain candidates.

Lee is one of six rivals vying to win the nomination to run for mayor as candidate of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Since Tainan is considered a DPP stronghold, the winner of the primaries is highly likely to become the southern city’s next mayor.

On Friday, Lee announced he was spending NT$12.75 million (US$430,000) on his campaign, and invited his opponents to come clean about their financial situation, the Liberty Times reported.

The former legislator said the Tainan primaries were “the most expensive in the history of the DPP,” hinting that some candidates would spend up to NT$100 million (US$3.3 million).

The practice could open the door to funding from Chinese sources or to “improper collusion,” he said, hinting that some candidates might be in the pay of business people who were expecting contracts after the elections.

As to his own campaign, Lee said he had already spent NT$8.3 million (US$280,000) on advertising alone, leading him to wonder how much his competitors were spending if they set up supporters’ associations, erected large billboards and distributed promotional materials all over town.

Premier William Lai (賴清德) was mayor of Tainan City for seven years until he left to join the central government last year.

The main task of voters in November will be to choose city mayors, county magistrates, members of city and county councils, and lower-level local mayors and representatives. The elections will also be a first test for the DPP since its decisive victories in the presidential and legislative elections of January 2016.