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Taiwan opposition party drops out of key mayoral race

Taiwan's main opposition party on Wednesday dropped out of the mayoral race in the capital Taipei, seen as a major barometer for the presidential elections.

TAIPEI: Taiwan's main opposition party on Wednesday dropped out of the mayoral race in the capital Taipei, seen as a major barometer for the presidential elections.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said it would not be nominating a candidate for the Taipei mayor in order to back the campaign of popular political novice Ko Wen-je, so that the opposition camp could present a united front in the race.

Ko, a well-known physician, has no prior experience in politics but opinion polls indicate that the 54-year-old could have a better chance than any DPP candidate in Taipei, considered a stronghold of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party.

Ko will be running as an independent against the KMT's Sean Lien, son of Taiwan's former vice-president Lien Chan.

Sean Lien, a former banker, was born into one of Taiwan's richest political families and has promised to donate his mayoral salary to charity if elected in November -- following a precedent set by former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The DPP has alleged the Lien family has invested in China -- a sensitive issue in Taiwan, especially for politicians -- and cashed in on his father's influence following a landmark trip made by Lien Chan almost a decade ago.

Sean Lien has denied investing in China, and insisted any business activity was "in line with the law".

China still considers Taiwan part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, even though the island has governed itself since the two split in 1949 at the end of a civil war.

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