Written by Thung-Hong Lin. In March 2014, the Sunflower Movement, a student-led protest to oppose the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement (CSSTA), shocked the Taiwanese public. For 24 days (March 18–April 10, 2014), Taiwan’s legislature was paralysed by protesters occupying the chamber, nearby roads and surrounding alleys, which prevented their eviction by police. The protesters claimed that the CSSTA would favour large companies investing in China, damage local small and medium-scale enterprises’ (SMEs) business and have a devaluing effect on local labour’s wages.
Written by Chin-fen Chang. As an export-driven economy, Taiwanese manufacturing has suffered a sharp drop in demands overseas during the first half of this year. Local businesses in Taiwan have also been affected by a lack of foreign tourists. Moreover, Taiwanese have been self-restrained in their consumption, suffering from income loss or concerning worse financial conditions to come in the near future. Labour markets also show significant job losses along with cutting regular earnings for those fortunately still on the payroll.
Written by Dorothy I-ru Chen. Ethnocentrism is often found in a highly homogenous society like Taiwan. There have been stereotypes and bias against new immigrant children over the years. Studies conducted in the early days suggested that these children’s academic achievements were lagging. Moreover, these studies failed to recognise the problem may lie within schools which are not capable of meeting the needs of children from diverse cultural backgrounds.
Written by Christian Aspalter. Taiwan today has a relatively comprehensive welfare state system due to the work of Lee Teng-Hui and millions of Taiwanese. These citizens pushed the very same man to open and safeguard the process of democratisation back in the late 1980s, and to set up the first major system of the Taiwanese welfare state, the universal National Health Insurance, back in 1996. Lee listened to what people wanted, and that means all of the Taiwanese people, not just the elite, the ancient regime of the Kuomintang (KMT) or the business tycoons. Other leaders behaved quite differently.
Written by Ruo-Fan Liu. If you travel to Taiwan in February or July, you will probably hear people talk about their children’s exam scores in MRT stations, coffee shops, and traditional markets. These days, high schoolers are busy applying for colleges, sustaining admissions from selective universities, and hoping that what happens at this stage in their life will set themselves apart from peers in the future. Since the Taiwanese Government expanded higher education and diversified admission channels for different kinds of students, this process has become more complex, and admission rules are continually changing.
Written by Yi-hui Lee and Kai-chieh Yang. As a result of geographic and economic factors, educational recourses have long been distributed unevenly in Taiwan. This has long caused some disquiet. The effect of this recourse inequality worsens at every stage of the education system and severely hampers class mobility. The new “school-determined curriculum,” which is so central to the 2019 curricula reforms, will change many of the compulsory class requirements for high-schoolers in Taiwan. With inequality being such a clear issue, it is essential to ask: what affect will this have on the uneven recourse distribution across schools?
Written by Jen-Chen Chao. Up until the 1990s, all university applicants in Taiwan were allotted university places based solely on their test scores on a standardised exam. This was generally seen as leading to a high-pressure environment in which students had to prepare endlessly for a high-stake test. Recent attempts by the Government have tried to alleviate some of this pressure whilst also promote the learning and developments of students.
Written by Wei Azim Hung. The series of border skirmishes between India and China that began in early May this year have prompted a wave of anti-China sentiment across the subcontinent. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has struck a particularly aggressive tone by saying “the age of expansionism is over” and “peace is not won by weakness” , while being mindful of the need to save his Chinese counterpart face by not indulging in overly bellicose or provocative rhetoric. Interestingly, this is not the first time India and China have engaged in border hostilities, nor is it the most bloody conflict.
Written by John F. Copper. Had the economic numbers not been in their favour, would they have lost the election? Hardly. The fact the U.S. supported President Tsai and her party was an overwhelming advantage, as was China alienating Taiwan’s voters with its harsh statements and actions, which were further exacerbated with anti-China protests in Hong Kong. Both were critical factors. Finally, the KMT was very divided with its top leaders fighting among themselves.
Written by Maaike Okano-Heijmans and Brigitte Dekker. The protection of digital freedom of speech, transparency and inclusiveness is at stake as governments resort to (sometimes intrusive) digital means to monitor and combat the coronavirus. At the same time, economic competitiveness in the digital age requires innovative approaches, as the US-China rivalry profoundly reshapes the global tech landscape and global governance. This is where Taiwan and the European Union (EU) have similar interests and stand to benefit from exchanging best practices.
Written by Karl Chee Leong Lee. Despite lingering pessimism surrounding the impact of COVID-19 on Southeast Asia’s economy, Malaysia has unexpectedly enjoyed a new wave of Taiwanese investment. According to official figures released by the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) last April, the value of inbound manufacturing-based investment from Taiwan has increased seven-fold. In 2019 Taiwan became the fourth largest FDI source for Malaysia’s manufacturing sector after China, the US and Singapore.
Written by Dr. Alan H. Yang and Tung Cheng-Chia. Great power competition between the United States and China has intensified under the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic. Whether in the World Health Organization or the United Nations, this intensification is compelling states to reorient their political alignment. Taiwan needs to reflect on and strategically reposition itself in this geopolitical tug-of-war. A top priority for the island-nation is to strengthen its links and influence in Asia.