Thursday evening saw the last major Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) rally of the election season as supporters of presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) flooded Ketagalan Boulevard in the heart of Taipei.
Organizers had called for one million participants to attend the rally, held outside Taiwan’s presidential office. While it was certainly well-attended, a more reasonable estimate would be around 300,000 to 400,000 supporters cheering on the Kaohsiung mayor and KMT nominee.
However, the crowd made up for it with their sheer enthusiasm. By 5 p.m., the official start time, people were streaming in down Taipei’s Xinyi Road in a jubilant mood. Most people had brought a friend, while others were in groups holding banners.
In marked contrast to other Han rallies I have attended, where there has been a marked wariness of the press, Han supporters proactively sought me out and offered to share their thoughts.
Another noticeable difference was the presence of younger first-time voters.
While the numbers were certainly not high, other Han rallies have seen an almost complete dearth of this demographic. In contrast to the more close-knit older contingency, those in their early 20s tended to be in pairs.
Benny, 24, works in the tourism industry. He has already decided in firm favor of voting for Han, saying that the industry has suffered from the tenure of incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文). Since Tsai’s election in 2016, Beijing has severely restricted Chinese tourism to Taiwan—a move which hasn’t stopped Taiwan from registering a record number of tourist arrivals in 2019.
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