A tourist from China looks at an exhibition which highlights election at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan, January 12, 2016. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang
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The number of mainland Chinese tourists to neighboring Taiwan halved in the weeks before this weekend's elections, several Taipei-based travel agencies said, as Communist Party rulers in Beijing discouraged visits to China's diplomatic rival.Taiwan elections are always sensitive in China, which regards the self-ruled island as a breakaway province, worried that the democratic free-for-all across the Taiwan Strait could cause people to wonder why their own government won't allow free polls.Chinese tourists were put off visiting Taiwan because of the "highly politicized" atmosphere, a Beijing government spokesman said back in October, but would not say if Beijing was telling people not to go.China has regarded Taiwan as a renegade province since Chiang Kai-shek's defeated ruling Nationalists fled to the island after losing the Chinese civil war to Mao Zedong's Communists.
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