Fighting from the Grassroots: Indigenous Health Justice is All About Life

Written by Yunaw Sili and Besu Piyas. The story began in 2006. That year, the Council of Indigenous Peoples in Taiwan issued a guideline stating that if Indigenous students need preferential treatment for college admission, they must pass the national Indigenous language certification test. As a result, many parents were worried that their children’s access to higher education would become more difficult. Because of this issue, we started our grassroots organising work in Hanxi Village, Datong Township of Yilan County. That was the first time we engaged and coordinated with the community people on local concerns. On April 19th, 2006, we demonstrated in front of the Council of Indigenous Peoples, fighting for our youth’s college rights. 

Why Do We Have Poor Health? How Colonialism Continues to Marginalise Indigenous Peoples

Written by Wasiq Silan. Despite the varying colonial histories with Indigenous peoples in other parts of the world, Indigenous people in Taiwan have one disturbing issue in common: poor health. Among other indicators (such as maternal mortality, birthweight, malnutrition, obesity and so on), Indigenous peoples in Taiwan die almost a decade sooner than the general population. Why this disparity? We are taught to believe the argument that blames Indigenous peoples for their own high-risk behavioural choice, lack of awareness, low educational attainment, and dysfunctional families; closer examination shows that we need to look beyond the individual level.

Finding the Needle in a Haystack: Why Small Sample Studies Matter to the Health Justice of Indigenous Communities in Taiwan?

Written by Kalesekes Kaciljaan (Yu-Chi, Huang) and Ta-Chun Hua.

We often see that Indigenous-focused research is excluded from major research programs with the capacity to influence policymaking, ignoring the impact of Indigenous cultural distinctiveness on health disparities. For example, in the annual statistics of health promotion in Taiwan, the authors didn’t separate most disease-related statistics, such as prevalence, incidence, and age distribution of individual diseases, of Indigenous Peoples from the general population. It has been tough to present the extent of the health differences between Indigenous People and the rest of the Taiwanese population in the absence of these essential figures. Lack of information also posed many difficulties for community health practitioners attempting to establish a health promotion plan for undersized Indigenous communities. This phenomenon occurs in Taiwan and many other countries with multiple ethnic minorities.

Falling Through the Cracks of Care: Southeast Asian Migrant Workers Navigating Through Healthcare in Taiwan

Written by Shao-Yun Chang (張韶韻) and Hang-Tang Chen (陳翰堂). Since their labour was first viewed as a supplement to the domestic labour market, Southeast Asian migrants have become indispensable to the manufacturing, agricultural, fishing, and care industries over the last three decades. While the initial foreign population was primarily Thai and Filipino workers, Vietnamese and Indonesian workers are now taking over factory jobs, farm work, and caring for seniors and the disabled. 

Health for Whom, from Where, and by What? Story(ies) About a Medical Mission from Taiwan to Africa

Written by Chia-Shuo Tang. This article is a story about Taiwan’s multi-million US dollars health aid in an African country and its aftermath. It involves two hospitals, some doctors, several aid agencies, and a global pandemic intersecting at the dawn of the 21st century. In addition, this story is about how a Taiwanese hospital turned a bilateral medical aid mission into a non-governmental endeavour after severing diplomatic ties between the two countries. 

Resilience, State Capacity and Public Trust in Combating Pandemics, Case of Taiwan (Part I)

Written by Chun-Yi Lee. When it comes to combating pandemics, the public’s trust is crucial to the government’s response. The experience of COVID-19 demonstrates how well a government led its citizens through the pandemic depends on how citizens trust and comply with government regulations. As a result, COVID-19 has challenged not only health management but also governance issues more generally. As Fukuyama indicated, the Covid-19 pandemic was like ‘a bright light shone on existing institutions everywhere’ – the way a government and society reacted to the pandemic exposed the strengths and/or inadequacies within the existing institutions. 

Hard Cash or Soft Values? Assessing the ‘Lithuanian Model’ of Eastern European Relations with China and Taiwan

Written by Dominika Remžová. Over the last year and a half, Lithuania has been at the forefront of the EU’s improving relations with Taiwan and worsening relations with China. This culminated with Lithuania leaving the 17+1 framework of cooperation between China and 17 (now 16) eastern European countries on the one hand and the opening of the Taiwanese Representative Office in Vilnius on the other. The two events occurred in May and November 2021, respectively, with the latter being particularly controversial, as China argued that the denomination ‘Taiwanese’ breached the EU’s One China policy, which led to the imposition of Chinese economic sanctions on Lithuanian products. However, as Lithuania’s economic relations with China are negligible, at least when compared to western European countries, Beijing made the unprecedented move of targeting EU-wide supply chains that contain Lithuanian products. This effectively escalated the bilateral disagreement to the EU level, with the bloc filing a WTO case against China.

Cultivating Support from a Distance: The Transnational Activism of Taiwan Alumni Associations in Southeast Asia

Written by Ratih Kabinawa. Since Tsai Ing-wen won power in 2016, Taiwan has experienced increased international isolation. Beijing stepped up its offensive policy toward Taiwan by blocking Taipei’s participation in international forums, for example, in the WHA, WHO, and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). The PRC also exercised its dollar diplomacy to push Taiwan’s remaining diplomatic allies to switch recognition from Taiwan to China. As a result, during Tsai’s first term (2016-2020), Taiwan lost its major diplomatic allies, leaving the country with only thirteen diplomatic allies. Consequently, the Taiwanese government has looked to overseas communities to enhance its image and visibility, including Taiwan alumni associations. The Tsai administration has given these overseas communities a significant role under Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy (NSP). 

Cat-Warriors vs Wolf Warriors: How Taiwan Promotes Its Brand in the Face of a More Assertive China

Written by Simona Grano. According to China, Taiwan is a splinter province to be re-conducted under Beijing’s sphere of influence at all costs; likewise, China forbids international recognition of Taiwan under its “One China” principle. Through dealing with such hindrances for decades, the island has become skilled at swerving Chinese diplomatic aggression. Taiwan uses its soft – or “cat warrior” – diplomatic power to counter attacks on its sovereignty, promoting itself as a freedom-loving, peaceful nation in contrast to a belligerent China.

Fat-Shaming and Beauty Related Tensions in Contemporary Taiwanese Families

Written by Amélie Keyser-Verreault. One of the most important criterion determining whether a woman is considered beautiful is thinness in Taiwan and elsewhere. Under the influence of an increasing cult of beauty, my field works reveal the existence of various forms and causes of multiplying and exacerbating fat-shaming and beauty-related conflicts within the contemporary Taiwanese family. Although the idea that a close linkage between physical appearance and womanhood is certainly not new, recent research on women’s experiences of body transformation underscores that the degree of beauty pressure is unprecedented in contemporary societies. 

Taiwan’s Asylum Policy: A Lack of Political Will to Implement the Law?

Written by Kristina Kironska. Taiwan is considered one of the most progressive countries in Asia but has no asylum law. Although debates on the issue occasionally occurred for more than ten years, there has been no progress on the draft asylum law since its second reading in 2016. One significant point of contention is to what extent an asylum law should address not only people from “uncontroversial” foreign countries, such as the Rohingya in Bangladesh, but also people from China, Hong Kong, and Macau. As with any issue that touches on cross-strait relations, the situation is complicated: on the one hand, the government celebrates Taiwan’s status as a beacon of human rights; on the other, extending asylum to PRC citizens risks stoking tensions with Beijing. 

Bridging Islands of/beyond Borders: Dongyin and Yonaguni

Written by Yi-Yu Lai. While the COVID-19 has stopped many individuals from travelling and interacting over the last two years, some cultural exchanges that we never expected to see have emerged during the pandemic. For example, on February 18th, 2022, people in Dongyin, an insular township in Taiwan’s Matsu Islands, had their first online workshop with those from Yonaguni, an island that belongs to Okinawa. Both islands are considered frontiers in their respective countries, and they had many comparable fates throughout history. Therefore, such a cultural exchange between the islands was particularly impressive because it was an activity with the islands as the focal point.

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