Written by Fang-Long Shih. The life and afterlife of Chiang Wei-Shui (蔣渭水 1891–1931) have echoed what the film Rashomon has denoted: “History was not found at the time of its occurrence, but was reconfigured at the time of discovery” (dir. Akira Kurosawa 1950). In 1921, Chiang Wei-Shui founded Taiwan Cultural Association (TCA, 台灣文化協會), the first culture-based organisation in Taiwan’s history. The TCA was established “to promote Taiwan to a position of freedom, equality and civilisation”. The TCA also had a political aim to “adopt a stance of national self-determination, enacting the enlightenment of the Islanders, and seeking legal extension of civil rights”.
Author: Adrian Chiu
Transformation of Women’s Status in Taiwan, 1920-2020
Written by Doris T. Chang. Among all the gains made by Taiwanese women in the past century, achieving leadership roles in the political arena is perhaps Taiwanese women’s greatest achievement. During the Japanese colonial era, women had no right to vote. However, after lifting martial law in 1987, Taiwan emerged as a vibrant democracy. Due to political parties’ commitment to nominating more qualified women candidates for elections in the late 1990s and after that, the percentage of women elected to Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan reached 42 per cent in 2020 — the highest in Asia. This is equivalent to the percentage of women legislators in most Scandinavian countries. But Taiwanese women’s achievement in the political arena would not have been possible without making significant progress in their educational attainment throughout the twentieth century.
Hybrid Taiwanese Opera: The Vitality of “Opeila”
Written by Jasmine Yu-Hsing Chen. In Taiwan, outdoor Taiwanese opera performances next to temples have been essential to Taiwanese religious traditions for decades. Most troupes adhere to the etiquette of performing “classical plays for matinees and opeilas for evening performances.” Unlike performances in the afternoon, which are mostly classical repertoires based on books and legends, evening performances are always energetic. With the accompaniment of an electronic piano and jazz drums, the actors on stage sing pop songs and dress in shining sequin robes, fancy suits, or colourful Japanese costumes. This hybrid performance style has been called “opeila” (oo-phiat-a), which is phonetically adapted from the Japanese pronunciation of “opera” (o-pe-ra オペラ) in Taiwanese. This unique subgenre of Taiwanese opera has livened memories in numerous Taiwanese people and is one of the most concrete testimonies of vital Taiwanese culture.
Why Does Taiwan’s Development in the Past Century Matter?
Written by Peter C.Y. Chow. By the end of the 20th century, most former colonies had become independent though few qualify as modern states. Taiwan is an exceptional case in modern development history. Although still a Japanese colony until WWII, Taiwan became a modernised country with remarkable achievements in socio-political and economic developments by the end of the 20th century. Its unique development trajectory is worthy of in-depth analysis such that other developing countries can share its experience in the struggle for modernisation.
Cross-Strait Relations: De-coding What’s “New” for the New Year?
Written by Raian Hossain. Despite such heightened tension in cross-strait relations across 2022, President Xi Jinping and Tsai Ing-wen have delivered their English and Lunar new year speeches, showing signs of certain tolerance and a softer tone toward each other. The message from both sides of the Taiwan Strait is not random but rather driven by political objectives and motives likely to determine the cross-Strait relations in the upcoming years. Although speeches by President Xi Jinping and Tsai Ing-wen cover numerous angles, this article uses some specific lenses of the Politics of Security, the local and presidential election of Taiwan, and pandemic politics while de-coding the Cross-strait relations for the near future.
Xi’s 2022-2023 Remarks Deepen Internal Division in Taiwan
Written by Wei-Hsiu Huang. To sum up, based on the address to the 20th National Congress of CPC and the 2023 Lunar New Year Greetings by Xi Jinping, it is explicit that the Chinese mainland will exercise even more robust sharp power and attempt to break up Taiwan from within. Moreover, the Chinese Mainland, which is always wary of foreign powers interfering in Taiwan’s affairs, could use the same sharp power against democratic states such as the US and Japan. This is because many countries, not just Japan, already have developed strong economic interdependencies with the Chinese mainland, creating routes for China’s sharp power. It is an important issue for democracies: how to prevent dictatorships from using sharp power to exploit freedom of speech and collapse democracies from within.
How might China’s new Taiwan policy pan out?
Written by Huynh Tam Sang. One year after the 2019 eruption of large-scale pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, China enacted the “national security law” for the special administrative region, cracking down on freedom and democracy there. Under such a situation, Taiwan’s populace disapproved of China’s strategy of occupying and turning the self-governed island into a new colony in the vein of Hong Kong. In light of the widespread criticism of “one country, two systems,” the political framework that Chinese authorities have embraced to pursue peaceful reunification with Taiwan, the Chinese Communist Party’s leader Xi Jinping (習近平) has tasked Wang Huning (王滬寧), the party’s chief of ideology and his mastermind, with finding a replacement arrangement.
Taiwan-China relation: 2023 and beyond (Part II)
Written by Daniel Jia. The Taiwanese government, as the administrative body of a democratic state, is currently facing a formidable challenge from both external and internal sources. While China’s aggression towards Taiwan is widely acknowledged, many Taiwanese citizens are beginning to realise that the significant differences between Taiwan’s and China’s social structures outweigh any cultural similarities between the two nations. However, it is important to note that only a few people recognise that these differences could be easily erased if China imposed its rule upon Taiwan, as it did with Hong Kong.
Taiwan-China relation: 2023 and beyond (Part I)
Written by Daniel Jia. The year 2022 has been particularly bumpy for Taiwan and China in their relationship. The tension reflected the growing identity gap between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. While China’s strength of pulling Taiwan closer through its economic attraction and political influence was waning, Taiwan’s growing confidence transformed into a centrifugal force that would one day liberate Taiwan completely from China’s repressive sphere. Taiwan’s desire to part tyrannical China bears an analogy with Ukraine’s struggle to free the re-born nation from the centuries-old Russian oppressor. The turbulent year of 2022 is now in the past, but does its impact affect our future? What would the Cross-Strait relation be like in 2023 and beyond? This paper includes two perspectives, the first is a reflection from China, and the second is a reflection from Taiwan.
Playing it Safe on Taiwan: China’s New Year’s Comment
Written by Brian Hioe. Perhaps ironically, the western new year’s and lunar new year’s speeches by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and Chinese President Xi Jinping touched on many of the same issues.
WHAT DOES THE TSAI ADMINISTRATION’S CABINET RESHUFFLE INDICATE?
Written by Brian Hioe. A cabinet reshuffle that took place over the Lunar New Year has swapped out a number of key positions in the Tsai administration.
Sitting on The Fence? The Ambiguous Position of the TPP and Its Potential Causes
Written by Jonathan Leung and Chengyu Yang. For the TPP, there are two issues that have been most widely criticised by the Taiwanese public and politicians. The first is that the TPP’s political stance is too vague and often lacks clear views on cross-strait issues. The second is that the TPP itself relies too heavily on the popularity of former Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je, while relatively ignoring the views of other TPP politicians. Some politicians have recently argued that Ko and his TPP are likely to repeat the 2014 PFP and Song’s failure in 2024. Why is the TPP’s cross-strait stance receiving attention in the Taiwanese political arena and is the TPP’s political stance really ambiguous? What are the potential reasons for public and politicians’ perceptions about the ambiguity of the TPP’s position?