Written by Gerrit van der Wees. In Spring 2019, the political future did not look very rosy for Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen. She had to fight a fierce internal presidential primary battle against challenger Lai Ching-te, while her likely Kuomintang (KMT) opponent, Kaohsiung mayor Han Kuo-yu, was riding high on his “blue wave” popularity.
Written by Chihhao Yu. People across Taiwan are building new communities. They are reaching out, with or without tech, to listen, to search for conversations, empathy, to connect realities, and create common experiences. These builders of community do not resort to fear or divisiveness when confronting challenges and attacks to their worldviews and values. They keep faith in our commonalities as people of this land. Communities are what we have and building them is what we should do.
Written by Abbas Faiz. At a time when democracy is being battered by populist leaders in Western countries and demonised by authoritarian states around the globe, seeing democratic aspirations held dearly in Taiwan and Hong Kong is greatly reassuring. Taiwanese have stood fast in their resolve to protect their hard-earned democracy. Despite the real threat of annexation by China, they have not fallen into the trap of authoritarianism that characterises the spectrum of post-liberation states elsewhere.
Written by Theodore Taptiklis. Taiwan and New Zealand share common themes around democratic participation and economic development based on distinctive comparative advantage. We are also connected via our indigenous peoples, the Taiwanese of whom may have formed part of the great chain of Pacific migrants that led to New Zealand’s pre-colonial settlement. And now, Taiwan’s ‘southbound’ outlook and its emphasis on youth development may connect us even further.
Written by Theodore Taptiklis. In Taiwan established internet infrastructure is being overlaid with new levels of creative functionality. These are opening up and transforming the polity and the meaning of citizenship in a range of mutually reinforcing ways. For example, Pol.is is enabling public consultation to be scaled to large numbers. Citizens can create a Pol.is identity using Facebook or Twitter and can see themselves and their concerns in relation to one another much more clearly with the help of a visual interface.
Written by Tsung-Mai Cheng. 1 March 2020 will mark the 25th anniversary of Taiwan’s National Health Insurance (NHI), a government-run single-payer health care system that covers the health care needs of Taiwan’s 23.5 million citizens and approximately 800,000 foreign residents. Before the NHI’s Implementation in 1995, 41% of Taiwan’s population had no health insurance coverage. Access to health care depended on the ability to pay for it, which often led to bankruptcy and impoverishment; or at its worst, meant no care.
Written by Jens Damm. Bruce belonged to the almost lost generation of professors who were able to be promoted without having to write long books early in their careers. Instead he was able to write books later in his lifetime, summarising his collected experience and wisdom. His two books which I recommend are The Kaohsiung Incident in Taiwan and Memoirs of a Foreign Big Beard (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2016) and Democratizing Taiwan (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2012). He was most recently working on Taiwan’s history. I and all who knew him will miss him greatly!
Written by Yuri Baral. At the time of Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy’s (NSP) inception, the core focus was on the value of cooperating with neighbors to better exploit each partners’ respective comparative advantages… Initial discussions aimed at defining the scope and goals of the policy did not explicitly mention a new platform for engaging with youths in Asia.
Written by Hunter Marston. As great power rivalry between the US and China intensifies, Taiwan finds itself exposed to a growing number of security and economic risks. Nonetheless, current trends in middle power diplomacy present Taipei with new opportunities to mitigate these external pressures. If the Tsai Ing-wen administration can better leverage Taiwan’s unique assets and advantages, and broaden the scope of its non-traditional cooperation with other regional players, it can bolstering the island’s strategic position.
Written by Corey Bell.
The 2019 Yushan Forum, hosted earlier this month by the Taiwan-Asia Exchange Foundation, lived up to its hype as a major forum on Asian trade and security. In a major coup, this year’s programme succeeded in attracting a number of prominent speakers, including Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, who delivered the event’s opening address, her Vice President Chen Chien-jen, India’s former foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon, and Sandra Oudkirk, the U.S. State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.
Written by Alan H. Yang and Ding-Liang Chen. Taiwan has lost several of its diplomatic allies in recent years. These setbacks have prompted Taiwan’s government to devise new approaches to improving its international presence and foreign relations strategy.
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. I just finished watching a powerful video of a street singer standing on a street corner in Hong Kong, singing pro-democracy songs. Some policemen moved in to stop him from singing, but despite the menacing position of the police, the presence of a surrounding crowd prevented them from acting. In the end, the singer wins, and the police lose.