Written by Chih-chien Lin. Mark Twain once said ‘History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.’ On December 31st, 2019, the WHO office in Beijing reported unknown pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China. On February 23rd, 2020, right before Chinese New Year, governments enforced large-scale traffic control (aka lockdown) in Wuhan. On February 27th, the Central Epidemic Command Centre in Taiwan gave its highest alert. It was a serious warning about the subsequent COVID-19 pandemic.
Written by Timothy S. Rich, Madelynn Einhorn, and Isabel Eliassen. Taiwan’s efforts at gender parity for electoral offices have resulted in a legislature where women currently hold 41.6% of seats. This leaves Taiwan ranked 12th globally, with only one Asian country (Timor-Leste) with similar rates. However, despite the success of President Tsai Ing-wen, the vast majority of executive offices (mayors and magistrates) are still held by men. Gender equality and the rise of women in national politics are common narratives when discussing Taiwanese politics.
Written by Huang Yi-Ching, Translated by Sam Robbins. Although everyone is at risk of catching COVID-19, the impact of the disease and preventative measures fall most harshly on already marginalised communities. Wanhua district of Taipei, which has a relatively high proportion of such disadvantaged groups, was also one of the first places to experience community transmission. This outbreak has dramatically increased the stigma attached to Wanhua, and many shipping companies, food delivery services and other recourses stopped servicing Wanhua. In the face of these pressures, communities in Wanhua have had to rely on their collaboration and communal work to help provide the recourses that are no longer present.
Written by Denis Simon. In early 2021, Taiwan’s health care system was ranked number one globally for the third year in a row by NUMBEO’s Annual Online Survey. Its overall performance buoyed the island’s ability to consistently earn such a high ranking during the first 12-14 months of the Covid-19 global pandemic beginning in 2020. Taiwan officials initially were able to ward off any significant damage from the pandemic by pursuing a highly aggressive strategy to keep the virus at bay. While other international rankings, such as the World Index of Healthcare Innovation, do not rank Taiwan as number one in its rating system, there is consensus across the board internationally that the government has proven itself highly effective at managing its single-payer health care system, mainly due to its innovative approach to digital health records.
Written by Lotta Danielsson. For the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan served as a brilliant example of how best to handle the crisis. Leaning on its experiences during the 2003 SARS epidemic, Taiwan received glowing reviews for its protective measures. Stories about long stays in quarantine hotels and the vigilant surveillance of arriving travellers spread widely online. Donations of high-quality protective gear served as public relations opportunities, culminating with “Made in Taiwan” facemasks worn at the White House. Photos from a crowded live concert in Taipei elicited envy from those still in semi-lockdown elsewhere.
Written by Min-hua Chiang. Taiwan government revised up economic growth forecast in 2021 to 5.5% in June despite the sudden surge of covid-19 cases since mid-May. This is the fastest growth path since and second only to the post-crisis rebound in 2010 (see Figure 1). The economy is bolstered by thriving exports outlook. Growing domestic investment is another anchor of Taiwan’s economy thanks to the continuous investment repatriation. The greater government consumption is expected to offset the potential fall in private consumption following the constraints on outdoor activities. Taiwan Centres for Disease Control (CDC)’s capability to put the domestic outbreak under control in a month further gives confidence that moderate economic growth this year could be expected.
Written by Chan-Yuan Wong, Ker-Hsuan Chien, and Mei-Chih Hu. As the world enters the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, Taiwan – previously acknowledged as a Covid-free nation – encountered a new outbreak in mid-May 2021. This wave of infection has been deemed critical, as the number of infection cases has surpassed 700, and the infectivity rate is as contagious as measles. To date, Taiwan encountered 635 death cases related to Covid-19 – of which 98% are attributed to the recent outbreak since 15 May 2021.
Written by Chun-Chien Kuo. According to the latest Bloomberg Covid-19 Resilience Report, Taiwan’s ranking has slumped to 44th place in June from the 15th in May. Meanwhile, the support rates for President Tsai have declined dramatically. Taiwan had successfully controlled the Covid-19 virus for more than one year under the strict border control, and people had been luckily enjoying the near normal life without lockdown elsewhere. The economy gained positive momentum both from strong export and little affected domestic activities. The CECC Commander Chen, President Tsai and DPP (Democratic Progressive Party) had been rewarded with high political support for their well performance in fighting the Covid-19 virus. However …
Written by John F. Copper. The recent economic news emanating from Taiwan is the impressive growth in its gross domestic product (GDP)—one of the basic indicators of economic vitality. This is certainly good to hear. After experiencing negative growth throughout most of 2020, conditions changed in the last quarter of the year. As a result, Taiwan even bested China’s GDP growth. Furthermore, the upward trend accelerated this year, with GDP expansion the highest in two decades. If this growth is sustained, 2021 will end with a welcomed 5 per cent or better rise.
Written by Natalie Dai（戴淨妍）, Jessica Hsu（徐卉馨）, Sophia Lee（李昕儒）, Dennis He（何正生); Translated by Sam Robbins. In August 2020, Lin Nuo-ning signed a half-year contract with her landlord and planned to stay in this apartment during her career move. However, when Nuo-ning applied for the subsidy for a second time, she received a call from her landlord whilst at work, criticising her for applying for the subsidy without telling her landlord first. As a result, her landlord asked her to move immediately. In applying for the subsidy, Nuo-ning had unintentionally caused the national tax bureau to contact her landlord to expect her tax records.
Written by Natalie Dai（戴淨妍）, Jessica Hsu（徐卉馨）, Sophia Lee（李昕儒）, Dennis He（何正生); Translated by Sam Robbins. For recent graduates like Yi-ting, mostly all renters, rent typically takes up between one quarter and one-third of their monthly income. According to the Ministry of Labour, the average monthly salary for recent graduates in 2019 was 28,231NTD (£724; $1021). Judging by mean rental prices per region, if they are willing to move out to the suburbs of New Taipei City, they can expect to pay around 8,000NTD (£205; $289) a month for an eight ping (26 square meters; 285 square feet) apartment.
Written by Chris Chih-Hua Tseng. Taipei has spawned some policy innovations. Meanwhile, in Taoyuan, an adjacent developing city that has built massive amounts of social housing, none of the above happened. Instead, the city government proudly announced it had built social housing the fastest. Why has social housing developped much more sluggishly in the capital than it has in Taoyuan? To answer the differences between these two cities, we need to expand our scope to broader urban politics and urban developmental processes.