People take part in a rally in support of same-sex marriage near the Presidential Office in Taipei on November 18,, ahead of a landmark vote on LGBT rights on November 24. Photo: AFP

Millions of Taiwanese go to the polls Saturday in key elections that will give them a say on divisive issues ranging from relations with Beijing to gay rights.

The island-wide vote for political representatives, from village up to city level, is a midterm test for beleaguered President Tsai Ing-wen as she deals with a backlash over domestic reforms and concerns about deteriorating ties with China.

The ballot also includes 10 referendums, including pro- and anti-gay marriage votes and a move to change the name under which Taiwan competes at international sports events.

The referendums are a headache for Tsai and her ruling Democratic Progressive Party, which faces serious challenges in major seats.

Tsai has described the local elections as a way to “tell the world” that Taiwan will not bow to Beijing, which has increased military and diplomatic pressure since she took office in 2016.

China sees self-ruling Taiwan as part of its territory and is angry that Tsai will not acknowledge that the island is part of “one China,” unlike her predecessor Ma Ying-jeou of the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang.

– With reporting from Agence France-Presse

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