Taiwan's ruling party is hoping to win a huge upset in presidential elections on Saturday just weeks after the opposition candidate seemed poised to easily win.

The wide lead by opposition candidate Ma Ying-jeou over ruling party challenger Frank Hsieh has narrowed since China's crackdown on Tibet.

Ma, who heads the Nationalist Party, has promised to improve relations with China and establish a common market with Taiwan's communist neighbor.

Hsieh, of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, says China views Taiwan as it does Tibet and has warned that the island's democracy could be in jeopardy if Ma is elected.

Taiwan and China split amid a civil war in 1949, but Beijing still considers the island part of its territory and has threatened military force to reclaim it.

Ma has accused Hsieh of exploiting the Tibet issue for political gain.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.