Written by Adrian Chiu. It was generally thought that political parties are either election-based or ideology-based, depending on the factions dominating the party. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), having lost two presidential elections in a row, are now at crossroads to decide which they are for. As a mainstream party in a two-party system, the KMT is generally assumed to be aimed at winning elections. But as a former authoritarian party, adapting to electoral politics has always been tricky for the party. The increasingly vocal ‘deep blue’ faction within the party also seemed to suggest otherwise. As the general elections draw near, the temperature is rising for the battle for the party.
From Kuomintang to Democracy: The Evolution of Clientelism and Its Legacy
Written by Matthew Yi-Hsiu Lee. The democratic performance in Taiwan today is evident, but this does not mean that it does not have a dark side. Recently, during the by-election of a legislator in Nantou, some people held cameras to supervise whether others voted, which violated the privacy and rights of the general public. These people are brokers and part of a more extensive authoritarian legacy. They monitor whether voters go to vote, which may also involve vote-buying fraud and serving so-called “local factions.” However, what are the mysterious “local factions”? Why do they appear? And what impact do they have on democracy?
Who are the Allies of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)? Neologisms, Netizens, and Nationalisms
Written by Hsin-I Sydney Yueh. Recently, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense rejected a Japanese news report suggesting a widespread tendency among retired Taiwanese military officials to “sell out” their country. Wu Sz-Huai, a retired lieutenant general and incumbent opposition KMT party legislator, was among those who denounced this allegation.
“Are we Chinese spies (共諜)?” Wu angrily asked this rhetorical question during a session of the National Defense Committee at Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan on March 2, 2023. While Wu denied being a Chinese spy, Taiwanese netizens teased him by sharing a photo of Wu and other retired Taiwanese military officials attending a CCP-hosted event, where they had sat attentively and listened respectfully to China’s leader Xi Jinping in 2016. Wu’s use of the term “Chinese spies” reminds us of another similar expression in Mandarin Chinese: “allies of the CCP” (中共同路人). This expression has recently gone viral in Taiwan’s online communities, used for self-mockery and as an attacking label.
Chu Yun-han: Influential Political Scientist, Promoter of Taiwan Studies and Sinology in Europe
Written by Dafydd Fell and Robert Ash. It was with the greatest sadness that we heard of the passing of the influential Taiwanese political scientist Chu Yun-han. He died at home on 5 February 2023 – just two days after his 67th birthday. His loss is irreparable: through his own academic research and his tireless efforts as Executive Director of the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, he exerted an enormous influence on East Asian Studies throughout Europe, as well as in many other parts of the world.
“Kind and Gentle Soul”（「謙謙君子，溫潤如玉」）: Remembering My Dear Friend Yun-han Chu (1956-2023)
Written by Tse-min Lin. The news came as a total shock. I had arrived in Taiwan just five days earlier to visit the new Taipei School of Economics and Political Science that Yun-han had helped establish. I knew he was ill and had been hoping to visit him after being unable to do so for five years. That is never going to happen now. Yun-han was a dear friend for 40 years. His passing is a heart-breaking personal loss.
Chu Yun-han (67), An Eminent Scholar and President of Taiwan’s CCK Foundation, Died on February 5th, 2023
Written by Gunter Schubert. It was a spring day in 2007 when I entered the commercial building at Tun Hua North Road, where the headquarters of the Chiang Ching Kuo Foundation (CCKF) were located on one of the upper floors. I came to meet Chu Yun-han in his capacity as CCKF president and introduce to him my idea to establish a Taiwan research centre at the University of Tübingen. I had prepared a detailed presentation and pondered every detail that could jeopardise my proposal’s consistency.
In Memoriam: Missing Yun-Han
Written by Yu-Shan Wu. Gone is Yun-han, a true friend. We were colleagues at National Taiwan University and Academia Sinica for over half a century. He is a world-class political scientist, a gentle junzi in the finest Confucian sense of the term, a deep thinker who cares about the fate of the country and the world, and a master of delicate tastes in life. These are the four integral aspects of Yun-han’s personality that I am sure Yun-han would like us to keep in mind when thinking of him.
Xi’s 2022-2023 Remarks Deepen Internal Division in Taiwan
Written by Wei-Hsiu Huang. To sum up, based on the address to the 20th National Congress of CPC and the 2023 Lunar New Year Greetings by Xi Jinping, it is explicit that the Chinese mainland will exercise even more robust sharp power and attempt to break up Taiwan from within. Moreover, the Chinese Mainland, which is always wary of foreign powers interfering in Taiwan’s affairs, could use the same sharp power against democratic states such as the US and Japan. This is because many countries, not just Japan, already have developed strong economic interdependencies with the Chinese mainland, creating routes for China’s sharp power. It is an important issue for democracies: how to prevent dictatorships from using sharp power to exploit freedom of speech and collapse democracies from within.
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?
How not to avoid a war over Taiwan: Misconceptions in the policy brief by a task force on US-China Policy
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. On October 12th, 2022, a task force on US-China relations of the Asia Society published a policy brief titled “Avoiding war over Taiwan.” While it is laudable that some academics want to avoid a war over Taiwan, the analysis of this policy brief is fundamentally flawed on a number of key points.
Does the Public Still Trust the Tsai Administration?
Written by Timothy S. Rich and Kole Ingram. To what extent does the Taiwanese public trust the Tsai Ing-wen administration? Furthermore, does trust in the administration’s COVID policy fare better than generalized trust?