Written by Ratih Kabinawa. Drawing from Risse-Kappen’s seminal book and his framework of domestic and international structures, this article explains Taiwan’s long-standing engagement with non-state actors in promoting its foreign policy objectives in Southeast Asia via a case study of the New Southbound Policy (NSP). After enjoying some success in maintaining semi-official contacts with Southeast Asian countries during the cross-Strait relation détente, the election of Tsai Ing-wen compelled Taiwan to bring transnational relations back into its foreign policy. In 2016, Taiwan’s newly elected president, Tsai Ing-wen, introduced a foreign policy flagship that stressed the essential role of people-to-people diplomacy in promoting Taiwan’s foreign policy objectives in Southeast Asia.
Written by Chen Jie (陈杰). There are remaining concerns urging the government of democratised Taiwan to support democratic causes and human rights in China. In fact, for the Tsai Ing-wen administration, these issues have strengthened. Despite their disdain for the one China project, politicians of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) share the sentiment that Taiwan’s own democratisation inspires China. This is echoed internationally. The former US Vice President Mike Pence spoke positively about Taiwan’s “embrace of democracy” and the example it had set for “all the Chinese people.”
Written by Nissim Otmazgin. Now that Taiwan has largely shed its Cold War KMT image and has gone through a democratisation process, it can project itself as a peaceful, prosperous, and above all, democratic country that might be a good ally for pro-democracy forces across the region? Given its regional setting in Northeast Asia, how does Taiwan tap into surrounding soft power competition and promote an international agenda?
Written by Gunter Schubert. Taiwan has earned worldwide praise for its success in fighting the coronavirus crisis. It has become a shining example for those pushing the argument that state capacity in anti-epidemic politics is not preconditioned upon an authoritarian mode of government. Rather, the Taiwan case has shown that effective top-down policy steering, strict compliance of the populace with quarantine measures, hygiene measures and social distancing, and legitimate comprehensive tracing of digital data are all possible in a democracy.
Written by En-Chieh Chao. Scientific epidemic prevention measures are essential and critical, but sometimes not enough. As demonstrated in Taiwan’s experience of 2020, other than an alert government, it takes a civil society and divine deities. After all, to prevent an epidemic literally requires human bodies to work together. The question is: what makes us work together? It could be democracy for some, and divination for others. Sometimes, it is both.
Written by Lihyun Lin and Chun-yi Lee. On November 18, 2020, the National Communications Commission (NCC) in Taiwan refused to renew the licence of CTiTV. This decision caused much protest from the opposition party, with the Kuomintang (KMT)’s high-pitch of ‘protecting press freedom.’ We found ironic how the KMT used Deng Nan-jung (鄭南榕) ‘s case as an example to indicate how the ruling party in Taiwan – the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) – intervened in press freedom and sacrificed Taiwan’s democracy.
Written by Milo Hsieh. Corruption in Taiwan has been a significant issue since the democratisation in Taiwan. In the early years of Taiwan’s democracy, this was a major issue for politicians in all political parties. Despite numbers and figures showing that Taiwan has been working well to root out corruption amongst its bureaucracy and politics, high-level corruption and illicit deals between politicians and the business community continues to Taiwanese politicians.
Written by Boyu Chen. Taiwan has won accolades internationally for its success in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, which is still wreaking havoc worldwide. The IT minister, Audrey Tan, has gained recognition due to the successful application of information technology to control the pandemic. This includes the digital mask map that efficiently delivers masks to citizens, along with smartphone applications for contact tracing by GPS data. The young and innovative Audrey Tan has become very popular in Japan, where many people envy Taiwan’s excellent use of information technology to counter the virus.
Written by Malcolm Turnbull. Countries that displease China have been threatened with economic consequences. It might be boycotting Japanese retailers; or stopping tourism to South Korea. Or as we have seen in Australia, holding up beef exports and slapping tariffs on wine. On the other hand, and especially in the developing world, billions are being offered for infrastructure development through the Belt and Road initiative.
Written by Ian Inkster. Corruption has been a dirty word for many years. Whilst it was a normal mechanism of courtly governance in most nations at some much earlier times, the move to modernity has everywhere removed any legitimation it might have had in the past. Usually, this is seen as in contradistinction to the growth of electorates, civil societies, and democratic constitutions, however partial or ill-applied the latter often are. Nevertheless, we must also revisit the numerous exceptions and the general irregularity of this historical trend even at the heart of the claim.
Written by Yu-Hsien Sung and Chin-shou Wang. For many years, Taiwan has suffered from substantial amounts of corruption. The dominant political party used voting-buying machines to secure popular support and elicit cooperation from elites. Following the changes in the political environment during the democratization period, the old mechanisms gradually failed in their effectiveness. In recent global surveys on governance and corruption, Taiwan is considered as one of the best performers in the Asia-Pacific region. However, during the past year, several Taiwanese politicians and government officials were involved in bribery scandals.
Written by Erik Mobrand. Assessments of the state of corruption in Taiwan show wildly diverging conclusions. Corruption scandals break out regularly, seeming to keep the island in a series of emergencies. At the same time, global surveys laud Taiwanese authorities for successfully fighting corruption. If Taiwan is so clean, why do corruption scandals happen? Or, if corruption scandals are so regular, how can Taiwan be assessed as an anti-corruption success story?