Written by Gerrit van der Wees. The picture circulating on the internet of Speaker Pelosi and President Tsai Ing-wen standing next to each other was indeed a powerful image of two women who are determined to bend history in the right direction. The main conclusion of the episode is that it was crucial that Speaker Pelosi stood her ground and pushed through her plans for a visit to Taiwan. It is a win for democracy and a major milestone in Taiwan’s relations with the rest of the world.
Written by Manoj Kumar Panigrahi. The government and academicians must work upon a little academic knowledge of Taiwan in India. To begin with, Taiwan Studies can make space for itself within existing programmes or research centres in Northeast Asia or East Asia. Once it gains a stronghold, it can take off as a separate entity. I am optimistic about collaborating with other Taiwan Studies programmes worldwide to enhance India’s new front of research. The primary and most important goal now thus is to initiate and cultivate interest in Taiwan in India. Whether the interest in Taiwan is coming independently or clubbing it with other studies should not matter at the current stage. The debate of whether it shall be clubbed with “China studies” or be called “Sinitic” study can be taken up later.
Written by Henning Klöter. The contributions by Perkuhn and Chien, Wang and Achen and again Chien mention some successful examples of Taiwan studies centres and associations in the US, the UK and mainland Europe. The core of Wang’s and Achen’s argument is that all of them can and should do without sinology. So far, so good. But if we look at the sustainability of Taiwan studies, we need to look beyond centres and associations and ask how the field can attract new cohorts of students and what they expect to learn. In other words, we need to discuss how the study of Taiwan should be integrated into existing curricula or whether Taiwan needs a curriculum in its own right.
Written by Niki Alsford. To conclude, Taiwan Studies exists as an academic discipline because those who engage with it—whether in the continental or oceanic stories—care deeply about it. Debates surrounding its positionality will continue in an almost cyclical context because the anxieties academics have about the future of the field are shaped by the very concerns that we are all facing in a continued onslaught on languages, humanities, and social sciences at academic institutes across the globe. The future-proofing of the discipline rests in encouraging our students to engage with and think about Taiwan. After all, it is a brilliant island to study.
Written by Yi-Ling Chen. The dialogue about if Taiwan studies can be a part of Sinology (Perkuhn and Chien v.s. Wang and Achen) is interesting. Both groups mention the problems of job markets and the sustainability of the institutions. Thirty years ago, the choice of Taiwan research could be academic suicide. Nowadays, the situation is improving only slightly because of the persistent challenges of job opportunities and attractiveness for students and audiences. As Taiwan Studies is a part of soft power, strategic thinking is necessary for the funding agencies to ensure success.
Written by Dafydd Fell. Looking ahead, the field will need to continue seeking strategies to cope with a challenging environment facing many of the still vulnerable international Taiwan Studies programmes. While introducing a Taiwan Foundation would provide an important boost to the field, at least in the short to medium term, other more small-scale approaches will be required to enhance sustainability. Greater cooperation rather than competition between existing Taiwan Studies programmes would be a practical strategy.
Written by Hsin-Huang Michael Hsiao. To look ahead, I wish to invite all Taiwan studies scholars worldwide to join us at the next 5th World Congress of Taiwan Studies held in Academia Sinica, Taipei, in 2025. I hope to welcome all of you at the 2025 World Congress in Taiwan. After my experiences in organizing and co-organizing the past four consecutive World Congress of Taiwan Studies in 2012- 2022, I also hope to offer some suggestions for possible changes in both administrative and intellectual aspects for the next Congress to make it an equally meaningful and exciting Congress.
Written by Jens Damm. With the outbreak and global spread of COVID-19, reports of the stigmatisation of Asian-looking people have been accumulating in Germany and worldwide. Therefore, for a small research project, I chose to conduct qualitative semi-structured interviews with Taiwanese who spent the time of the pandemic in Berlin. I focused on their personal experiences as transnational actors. I asked in particular about personal experiences of discrimination and economic hardships during the pandemic and their evaluation of the different COVID-19 measures in Germany and in Taiwan.
Written by Ti-han Chang. 11:30 am on the 08th of July in Japan, unexpected news of Shinzo Abe 安倍晉三 being shot during his public speech travelled quickly on the international news media. However, the very fact of this happening has profoundly shaken societies in the East Asian region. For Japan, it appears there is a need to reflect deeper on the homogeneous nature of its internal political structure; for other countries in the region, on their indissociable geopolitical dynamics with their close neighbour over the last few decades.
Written by Jie Chen and Ratih Kabinawa. Taiwan has become widely regarded as an exemplary consolidated democracy, albeit with some defects. In Freedom in the World 2022 report, Freedom House gives Taiwan a 94 of 100 ratings, meaning the country counts as fully free. Freedom House also notes that “Taiwan’s vibrant and competitive democratic system has allowed three peaceful transfers of power between rival parties since 2000, and protections for civil liberties are generally robust”. Taiwan’s democratic standing has become more pronounced considering the rapid mainlandisation of Hong Kong under the repressive National Security Law.
Written by Madelynn Einhorn, Josie Coyle, and Timothy S. Rich. In June 2021, the Taiwanese legislature removed a nearly 90-year law criminalizing adultery, punishable with up to 12-months in prison and fines averaging 90,000 NTD (roughly USD 3000). In May 2020, the Constitutional Court overruled Article 239 of Taiwan’s criminal code, which criminalized adultery, because it violated the Constitution. The legislature removed the article from the legal code approximately a year later. South Korea removed a similar law in 2015 and India in 2018. Taiwan was one of the last liberal democracies to keep adultery illegal and the last East Asian country aside from the Philippines.
Written by Tzu-yun Su. As a result of the war in Ukraine, Taiwan’s security has gained more attention and support. So naturally, any assistance in democratic defence is welcome in Taiwan. But honestly, Taiwan’s defence plan is designed for the worst-case scenario: to defend itself alone without foreign military aid. That is to say, with military investment projects and manpower system reform, the island can effectively build asymmetric capabilities to improve defence capabilities. This will have a better chance of defeating the invaders and establishing Taiwan’s security.