A Vital Vote to Make a Difference
Peking University, Nov. 26, 2010: A group of 163 Taiwan students studying in Beijing took a charter flight Friday to return home to vote in Saturday's special municipality elections, one of three student groups taking advantage of a campaign to encourage the Taiwan people outside the island to vote.
Lin Yi-chun, a doctoral candidate at Peking University who was one of the initiators of the campaign, said the purpose of the drive was to get as many people as possible to cast their votes in the local elections.
Lin said she would vote for the political party that supports cross-Taiwan Strait peace, economic and cultural exchanges with the Chinese mainland, and the recognition of mainland diplomas.
The trip was partially sponsored by Taiwanese businesses based in Beijing as part of the campaign.
The current system in the province does not allow absentee voting, forcing local people who are living outside to return to Taiwan if they want to cast a ballot in any election.
According to Yan Cheng-li, vice president of the Beijing Association of Taiwan Investment Enterprises (BATIE) , two other groups of students totaling 100 had returned to Taiwan during the previous two days.
All the students will go back to Beijing aboard a charter flight scheduled for Nov. 30, Yan said.
He said the flights cost approximately RMB 1mn (US$150,202), and each of the students joining the trip needed to pay only RMB 500 (US$75), with the rest covered by donations from BATIE members.
Kao Yi, another PKU student from Taiwan who also took Friday's flight, said he had not decided whether to vote for the blue or the green camp, but stressed that all the students hoped that cross-strait peace could be achieved.
Meanwhile, many businessmen based on the mainland also returned to Taiwan Friday in preparation for the elections.
Lee Mao-sheng, president of the Shanghai Association, said the business community was taking an active part in the elections because they hoped candidates supportive of cross-strait relations could get elected.
With the help of the association, airlines have offered preferential fares to Taiwan voters returning home for the elections. A round-trip flight between Shanghai and Taipei cost only RMB 2,000, which is 1,500 cheaper than normal the price.
Reported by: Liu Cheng-ching, Chou Hui-ying, and Y. F. Low
Edited by: Jacques