What Does the Summit for Democracy Tell Us About U.S.-Taiwan Relations?

Written by John W. Tai. The Biden administration just concluded its first Summit for Democracy. Prior to the event, the world took notice that Taiwan was among the 111 countries invited, but much to China’s ire, the latter was not. This invitation is the latest in a series of moves that seems to demonstrate Washington’s determination to upgrade its ties with Taiwan. In this context, what should we make of Taiwan’s participation in President Biden’s signature event? What does it mean for U.S.-Taiwan relations?

Taiwan’s international space: expanding or contracting? Shining at the Summit for Democracy but losing Nicaragua

Written by Gerrit van der Wees. December 9 and 10, 2021 proved to be an interesting moment for Taiwan’s international space: on the one hand the country was invited to President Biden’s Summit for Democracy in Washington, where Digital Minister Audrey Tang gave a stellar performance in showcasing how Taiwan has enhanced its democracy in spite of the threats posed by China, and the hardships caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. On the other hand, on December 9, 2021 it was announced that Nicaragua was switching its diplomatic ties from Taipei to Beijing, reducing the total number of formal diplomatic ties down to fourteen.

Unrecognised Indigenous Groups of Taiwan and their Struggle for Language Revival

Written by Barnaby Yeh. Nearly all Plains Indigenous language advocates emphasize the importance of recognition from the national government. As summarized by Kaisanan Ahuan, a Taokas activist from Puli, lack of government recognition is the primary obstacle to a full-fledged revival. “Because Plains Indigenous are not nationally recognized as Indigenous people, their languages are not national languages. Therefore, we cannot teach our mother tongues under the national education framework.

A Bilingual Nation? What are the Efforts from Southern Taiwan Stakeholders?

Written by Brian Doce. In 2018, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen announced the government’s objective to transform Taiwanese society into a bilingual nation to elevate the English fluency of the Taiwanese people and upgrade the country’s national competitiveness. Looking at the current blueprint published by the National Development Council, the plan’s enumerated key performance indicators (KPI) show a government-centric outlook by emphasising the simultaneous use of Mandarin and English by government agencies for respective services.

The Global, the Local and Intercultural Communicative Competence in Taiwan

Written by Jenna Lynn Cody. Since its inception, the “Bilingual by 2030” initiative has drawn widespread criticism, primarily focused on a single titular keyword: bilingual. Social media posts citing “Mandarin” and “English” as the target languages of “Bilingual by 2030” by Vice President William Ching-te Lai certainly didn’t help. An initial focus on the possibility of making English a “second official language” in Taiwan and a failure to assuage worries that everyone would be forced to learn English made matters worse.

The Problem of Naming the Most Popular Non-Mandarin Language Used in Taiwan

Written by Hung-yi Chien. There seems to be no problem with saying “Taiwanese” or “Taigi” in English. People know Taiwanese is the most spoken non-Mandarin language in Taiwan, and Taigi (Tai[wan] language) is how the language calls itself. However, these names give a false impression that Taiwanese is the only language that genuinely belongs to Taiwan and neglects the existence of Hakka and indigenous languages in this culturally and ethnically diverse country. Hakka activists have complained about the name Taigi for decades. They urge to use other names to call this language and reserve Taiwanese/Taigi for all languages spoken in Taiwan. The Taiwanese/Taigi fellows do not welcome this proposal because there is no agreement on how to call this language if Taiwanese/Taigi is not an option. Up until today, the name of the most spoken non-Mandarin language in Taiwan is still in dispute.

The Dangers of a One-dimensional View of life and nation

Written by David Pendery. Nigerian Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has spoken of “the danger of a single story” and how such one-dimensional narratives can preclude us from understanding other peoples and nations, leading to misunderstanding and misrepresentation. These stories can stereotype others, and, Adichie argues, single stories often stem from confusion and a lack of familiarity with other peoples. At worst, these stories often have a malicious intent to suppress other groups, but they are also simply misconceptions and misjudgments. She says that our lives and cultures are composed of many overlapping stories.

Celebrity and Spokes-character Endorsement in Taiwan

Written by En-Chi Chang. ‘I started my day by putting on my Uniqlo LifeWear coat endorsed by Vivian Hsu. Then I headed out and stopped by 7-Eleven to buy a cup of City Coffee endorsed by Gui, Lun-Mei (桂綸鎂) for breakfast. Then, rushing to the MRT station, I used Open-chan(Open將) iCash card to take the MRT train to work. Though I do not have an ASUS ROG 5 designed by Nyjah Huston, my ACER endorsed by GBOYSWAG (鼓鼓) was just fine for work. After work, I decided to treat myself to a nice dinner at Eatogether endorsed by Accusefive (五告人). Then I went home and treated myself with a round of massage on my Fuji Massage chair endorsed by Ariel Lin (林依晨) while playing the game ‘Lineage II’ (天堂II) endorsed by Takeshi Kaneshiro (金城武).’

Pleasing the Mainland or Island: The Politicisation of Taiwanese Stars During On-Going Cross-Strait Turbulence

Written by Jian Xu. On January 25, 2017, National Defense News, a military newspaper under the management of the Military Committee of the Communist Party of China, published a commentary titled, ‘Never allow artists to eat Chinese food and smash Chinese bowls.’ The article criticised pro-independence Hong Kong singer Hins Cheung and applauded his ban from appearing on one of China’s most popular reality shows, I Am a Singer, run by Hunan Satellite TV. It argues that ‘in front of the overall interests of the country and nation, every artist needs to stay rational within the bottom line. Overstepping the bottom line means no future. Any ‘idol’ will be discarded if they hurt the national emotion and dignity of the Chinese people.’

President Tsai’s Celebrity Marketing

Written by Hsin-I Sydney Yueh. On November 13, 2021, NBA player Enes Kanter posted a Twitter message, stating that Taiwan is “not a part of China”; this particular video elicited a warm-hearted response from Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen. She said, “Thank you, Enes, for standing with Taiwan and standing up for democracy.” Kanter quoted Tsai’s reply and said he wanted to “meet the brave people of Taiwan.”

Taiwan on the eve of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages: a comparative perspective

Written by Brett Todd. Amidst the upheavals of this pandemic period, few would recall that 2019 was the International Year of Indigenous Languages, and fewer still realise that the International Decade of Indigenous Languages 2022-2032 is about to commence. Both were declared by the UN General Assembly, a space in which Taiwanese voices are not heard. However, Taiwanese Indigenous representatives have participated in the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), which joined UNESCO in calling for urgent action to arrest the declining use of native tongues worldwide.

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