The Philippines said today it had shifted production of voting machines for the 2016 presidential election from China to Taiwan due to fears that Beijing might “sabotage” the vote. Christian Lim, a senior official at the government poll watchdog Commission on Elections (Comelec), said the agency had moved the production site to avoid the risk of China interfering with the May 9, 2016 vote, or deliberately failing to deliver the machines. “We want to emphasise that the move to Taiwan was a product of the contract negotiations because we have received intelligence reports that there may be an attempt to sabotage the elections by China,” he was quoted by television reports as telling a congressional budget hearing.
He later told TV reporters: “they could have a trade embargo. There are issues there. That means any product made in China would not be coming to the Philippines, so no (voting) machines.”
“This could affect our elections. So we wanted to be extra careful. It pays to be paranoid,” he said.
The watchdog’s action brought a swift riposte from the Chinese embassy in Manila, which denied Beijing planned to interfere in the democratic exercise to choose President Benigno Aquino’s successor.