Voting starts in Taiwan's presidential election
Some 17 million Taiwanese were going to the polls on Saturday to choose their next president and also to cast votes in a controversial referendum on Taiwan's joining the United Nations. ( dpa )
Voting began at 14,401 voting stations at 8 am (0000 GMT) and will close at 4 pm (0800 GMT).
Ballot counting begins immediately, and early results are expected at 6 pm (1000 GMT), with the final result by 9:30 pm (1330 GMT), the Central Election Commission said.
The two presidential candidates are Frank Hsieh, from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), and Ma Ying-jeou, from Taiwan's largest opposition party, the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang or KMT).
While seeking peace with China, Ma wants to fully open trade with the mainland; Hsieh places Taiwan's security above trading with China.
Alongside the election, Taiwan is also holding a referendum on joining the UN.
There are two UN referendums, one sponsored by the government and the other called for by KMT. The KMT's referendum calls for using flexible ways to seek UN entry.
China is closely watching the UN referendum, which it strongly opposes as a move towards formal independence for an island it claims sovereignty over.
The US has dispatched two aircraft carriers to Taiwanese waters to guard against possible military conflict on election day.