A preliminary vote count shows Taiwan's pro-China ruling party has suffered stiff defeats in municipal elections, as it meets increased resistance to forging stronger ties with Beijing.

With more than 80 percent of precincts reporting Saturday, the Nationalist Party had lost eight city and county elections, including in longtime strongholds Taipei and Taichung.

The losses deal a stronger than expected blow to President Ma Ying-jeou, who has staked his reputation on stronger ties with Beijing.

That will make it tougher for the Nationalists to hold onto the presidency in 2016 and jeopardizes six years of landmark talks with China that have led to 21 agreements.