The 2022 Elections in Review: How Taiwan Failed to Adapt Voting for a Pandemic

Written by Kharis Templeman. With its colourful and fiercely contested campaigns, efficient electoral administration, and universal acceptance of the results, Taiwan’s recent local elections were, in most ways, a sign of a vibrant and healthy democracy. But one aspect failed to live up to basic democratic standards: thousands of people were denied the right to vote because they were trapped in mandatory COVID quarantine. After nearly three years of dealing with a global pandemic, Taiwan’s leaders should have been able to find some way to accommodate these citizens, as many other countries around the world have managed to do under much more difficult circumstances. Instead, they ignored the issue, and many Taiwanese were denied the right to vote. Taiwan’s democracy has received much recognition recently for its impressive vitality and resilience. But on voting rights, it is now a laggard. It can and must do better.

‘Ditching the DPP’, ‘Resisting China and Preserving Taiwan’, and Democracy: Interpreting the Results of Local Elections in 2022

Written by Mei-chuan Wei. The election results led many to conclude that Taiwan voters are more concerned about the ruling DPP’s inability to deliver on its promise to create a more just society and less worried about situations in the Taiwan Straits. However, this is misleading if we consider the results of local councils. The seats of local councillors of DPP have increased, while the KMTs have decreased. How, then to interpret the signals sent by the voters as embodied in the election results from the perspective of democracy in Taiwan?

Can g0v Be Replicated Abroad?

Written by Sam Robbins. The best answer is thus that g0v could be replicated abroad, but it should not be. G0v is unique in the specific ways it approaches problems but thoroughly un-unique in being a group of activists dedicated to solving problems. We cannot forget the second part of this when we reflect on the first part. How activists come together to work towards a common goal depends deeply on political contexts. Tech and civil society can collide in a range of different forms. A look at the Association for Progressive Communication (APC) members, a global network of civil society groups promoting equality through information and communications technology, also reveals that many groups are already engaging with digital technology as a liberating tool.

Pelosi Baloney or Distractions versus Realities

Written by Ian Inkster. So, China warned of ‘resolute and strong measures,’ and Speaker Nancy Pelosi left Taiwan without incident on her way to the rest of East Asia. She may well have infuriated parts of the Chinese regime when she said: ‘Make no mistake: America remains unwavering in our commitment to the people of Taiwan – now and for decades to come.’ Nevertheless, there is still no hint of any change in US policy, which will not recognise Taiwan as an independent entity, never mind a nation. No pathway has been opened. Indeed, the Western media made more noise than Taiwan itself.

Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan did go through: A major milestone in Taiwan’s relations with the rest of the world

Written by Gerrit van der Wees. The picture circulating on the internet of Speaker Pelosi and President Tsai Ing-wen standing next to each other was indeed a powerful image of two women who are determined to bend history in the right direction. The main conclusion of the episode is that it was crucial that Speaker Pelosi stood her ground and pushed through her plans for a visit to Taiwan. It is a win for democracy and a major milestone in Taiwan’s relations with the rest of the world.

How Democracy Boosts Taiwan’s National Security

Written by Jie Chen and Ratih Kabinawa. Taiwan has become widely regarded as an exemplary consolidated democracy, albeit with some defects. In Freedom in the World 2022 report, Freedom House gives Taiwan a 94 of 100 ratings, meaning the country counts as fully free. Freedom House also notes that “Taiwan’s vibrant and competitive democratic system has allowed three peaceful transfers of power between rival parties since 2000, and protections for civil liberties are generally robust”. Taiwan’s democratic standing has become more pronounced considering the rapid mainlandisation of Hong Kong under the repressive National Security Law.

The Sunflower, the Umbrella, and the Square: How Three Protest Movements in 2014 Foreshadowed Russia and China’s Foreign Policy Approaches in 2022

Written by Max Dixon. Therefore, the grievances, tactics and repression of the protest movements outlined here enable a clear foreshadowing of the approaches of Russia and China that would follow. Yet where Ukraine and HK saw their political systems collapse in their post-movement societies, the strength of Taiwan’s democratic institutions and values prevailed. This resulted in negotiating with the Sunflower Movement’s strains and the calls to repress it, which have seen a stronger Taiwan emerge.

Let’s Stop Calling Taiwan a “Digital Democracy” (And Start Telling Better Digital Stories)

Written by Sam Robbins. This is what is at stake with how we tell digital stories: If we focus only on the tech itself and its impressive uses, we risk leaving most citizens feeling like they have no voice on the matter due to a lack of expertise. When we tell stories of civil society collaboration, of how governments are interacting with citizens, and of policies whose ramifications are much greater than the new data they create, we can start to create a space for greater public participation on these subjects.

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. 

Shared but Particular: A Proposal to Pitch Taiwan Research in Sinology and beyond

Written by Josie-Marie Perkuhn and Hung-yi Chien. Therefore, we call for a more comprehensive cross-perspective and interdisciplinary academic dialogue to encounter the current segregations and broaden the community by strengthening the interconnectivity. Although some topics, such as identity politics and the cross-strait tension, have caught particular attention in recent years, Taiwan studies still lack some ‘infrastructure’ that helps new students of Taiwan to grow upon it. With this sort of infrastructure, even if Taiwan lose its existence as an independent entity in the future, the shared discipline of sinology researching Taiwan, in particular, will last, and Sinitic knowledge will become the common heritage of human beings.

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