Taiwan's relationship with China is a key topic in this week's presidential election as President Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Nationalist Party prepares to hand over power, possibly to the candidate of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party. A look at some of the major issues affecting the election:

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CHINA: Beijing continues to regard Taiwan as part of China and threatens to use force against the island if it formalizes its de facto independence. Fears of an invasion have been overtaken in recent years by concerns over the gradual rise in China's influence over Taiwan's high-tech economy. Despite a series of economic agreements offered as inducements, support for unification continues to slip, with the vast majority favoring a continuation of the status quo. Surveys also show that a declining number of Taiwanese consider themselves Chinese at all.

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THE ECONOMY: Economic growth in 2015 is believed to have been less than 1 percent. Wages are stagnant, and the economy of China, which absorbs around 30 percent of Taiwan's exports, is sputtering. Meanwhile, generous state pensions are taking up more than 7 percent of the overall government budget, although public debt remains at a relatively low 34 percent of GDP. The Taiwan Research Institute recently predicted the economy this year could grow by slightly more than 2 percent, partly on the basis of a stronger U.S. economy.

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YOUTH: Economic woes have produced deep angst among many young people. While unemployment is only around 4 percent, full-time work is hard to find and wages have remained perilously low, even for college graduates. Meanwhile, Taiwan's over-65 population is expected to constitute 20 percent of the population by 2025, placing a further burden on workers. Fears of China's economic threat propelled what became known as the Sunflower Movement that culminated in the occupation of the national legislature and premier's office building in the spring of 2014 to block passage of a services trade agreement. Although beholden to neither party, young people are expected to vote heavily for the DPP, which opposed the pact.

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SOCIAL ISSUES: Once among the world's most equitable societies, Taiwan has seen inequality grow rapidly in recent years as economic opportunities narrow. While welfare has expanded to include universal health care and aid for low income families, whether that safety net can be preserved in the face of a strained government budget is a concern for many Taiwanese. Other issues include the rights of Taiwan's aboriginal tribespeople, who are generally poorer and suffer from a lack of services, gender equality and gay rights, including a push by some to legalize same sex marriages.