Written by Ian Inkster. When attempting a summary prediction of Taiwan’s political economy in January of 2019, I admitted that even annual forecasting can look very foolish, especially during the decline in democratic systems perceived at that time and the importance of complex external commercial relations to the country’s growth and welfare. The forecaster turns idiot with awful speed. I asked to be forgiven during the gentle days of Chinese New Year! Like everyone, I did not predict the coming Covid 19.
Written by Yu-Hua Chen. China’s relationship with the liberal international order (LIO) has evolved over the decades. China gradually transformed itself from an order opponent in the Mao era to an order beneficiary in the Deng era to an order reformer in the Hu era. China has mixed feelings toward the LIO built and led by the United States at the end of World War II. On the one hand, leaders in Beijing know that the LIO is the foundation of China’s power and wealth today. Without the United States engaging China by bringing it into this order, the rise of China would have been impossible.
Written by Milo Hsieh. On December 18th, Taiwanese voters headed to the polls to vote on four key referendum topics. They rejected all four referendum proposals in a close but decisive vote. The votes were held on four topics, each of which were put forth by an opponent to a policy change pushed by the Tsai administration. Voters were asked explicitly whether they support: 1) Restarting Taiwan’s defunct fourth nuclear power plant, 2) Rejecting imports of U.S. pork containing Ractopamine, 3) Tying referendums to future national elections or leaving them as separate votes, 4) Rejecting the ongoing construction of a light natural gas ship dock in Taoyuan.
Written by Chieh-chi Hsieh. If anything is troubling the incumbent government led by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), it would not be the external threats imposed by China. On the contrary, China’s continuous assertive actions toward Taiwan have become the DPP government’s greatest asset, enabling the mobilisation of domestic support observed after President Tsai’s National Day speech, which gathered 67.9% of residents’ approval based on a public survey.
Written by Aaron Chen. In May 2021, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court considered a high-profile case concerning indigenous hunting rights. First opened in 2013, the Bunun man, Tama Talum, had been convicted for violating the Wildlife Conservation Act, which limited indigenous poaching to solely ceremonial activities. He was also prosecuted under the Controlling Guns, Ammunition and Knives Act, legislation that only allowed indigenous peoples to hunt using homemade weapons, whilst Tama Talum did otherwise.
Written by Yu-tzung Chang. Adam Enders, an Assistant Professor from University of Louisville, published a research paper in the Journal of Politics this year (2021). Comparing the degree of affective polarization between the political elite and the masses in the U.S., he found out that the political elites’ affective polarization is higher than the general public, and meanwhile the affective polarization is more diverge than ideology. The affective polarization of the Americans is becoming more and more revealing in current political environment.
Written by Ian Inkster. What may turn out to be the most distinguishing characteristic of the referendums is that none of them directly address the economic catastrophes rendered by the ongoing pandemic. In large capitalist nations elsewhere, especially in the West – not so visible in, say, Japan or anywhere east of the so-called Middle East – the debate on economic futures is primarily centred on anglophone and European concerns. The pandemic in most nations has accelerated debates and deepened the divides concerning employment, technological change, and social outcomes of government policies. In particular, the big question is back to the future: How can workers improve their conditions (from no-contract employment through to spasmodic multiple tasking) and how can or should policymaking contribute?
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. On Saturday, 18 December 2021, the Taiwanese people went to the polls to vote on four referendums supported by the opposition KMT and opposed by the ruling DPP of President Tsai Ing-wen. The result was a sound defeat of all four proposals and a significant win for the policies of President Tsai. Below is an analysis of what happened.
Written by Mark Wenyi Lai. On December 18th, the Taiwanese people voted for four national referendum questions. The vote was initially scheduled on August 28th but was postponed due to the pandemic prevention policy. The four questions were as follows:
Referendums and Their Relationship to Taiwan’s Politics Written by Chia-hung Tsai. Perhaps the biggest challenge for the DPP is the import of the US pork referendum. However, the KMT argues that the referendum targets every pork product containing ractopamine, which is used to enable animals to grow larger and leaner. This drug is currently legal in the US but banned in Taiwan. Many polls show that most people agree to ban meat containing ractopamine, partly because food safety is a salient issue in Taiwan, especially after the gutter oil incidents in 2014. The DPP seems to frame this referendum as the plebiscite on whether Taiwan would ally with China or US.
Written by John F. Copper. On December 18, 2021, a four-question referendum will be presented to voters in Taiwan. The first question deals with constructing a receiving terminal for natural gas on Taoyuan’s Datan Algae Reef. The second is about importing pork from the United States that may contain a possible dangerous additive. The third concerns the activation of the Lungman Nuclear Power Plant. Finally, the fourth allows, or rejects, referendums being held together with general elections.
Written by Charles K. S. Wu, Austin Horng-En Wang, Fan-Yu Chen, Yao-Yuan Yeh. Amidst the latest series of actions that draw China’s ire, the U.S. officially invited Taiwan to participate in an inaugural Summit for Democracy along with 109 states. Though the summit has several major themes for discussion on its agenda, including defending against authoritarianism, fighting corruption, and promoting human rights, many observers would agree that the convention is primarily symbolic and would not deliver substantial policy changes among the participants.