Written by Michael Reilly. The European Union’s relations with China are currently at their lowest level since at least the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, if not earlier. Growing disillusion with China’s economic and predatory business policies under Xi Jinping had already led to the EU branding China a ‘systemic rival’ in 2019. Since then, unease has only grown and relations further soured, most recently over China’s crude attempts to use the Coronavirus pandemic for propaganda purposes, followed by its imposition of a draconian National Security Law on Hong Kong in disregard of its obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984.
Written by Elizabeth Freund Larus. US President Donald Trump on March 26 signed into law the TAIPEI Act, strengthening US commitment to protecting Taiwan’s international standing. Passed earlier by both house of Congress with unanimous consent, the law is a response to China’s increasing pressure to shrink the island nation’s diplomatic space. The Act encourages countries to support Taiwan’s diplomatic recognition or to strengthen unofficial ties with the island, and to support Taiwan’s participation in international organisations. What form would these measures take, and what is the likelihood of their implementation?
Written by Dean P. Chen. On March 26, 2020, as the United States is under enormous pressure coping with the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic sweeping across the globe, President Donald Trump signed into law the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act of 2019. Passed unanimously by the two chambers of U.S. Congress — the Senate in October 2019 and House in March 2020 — the act pushes for enhanced American government support for Taiwan’s international participation. It thus requires the State Department to report to Congress on steps taken to strengthen the island democracy’s diplomatic relations with other partners in the Indo-Pacific region.
Written by James Lin. While the TAIPEI Act affirms US support, it does not change the capitalist structure of the international political economy, nor the hard economic and political advantages Beijing holds over Taipei and, to a certain degree, Washington. The United States is no longer in a position to shape the United Nations, or the Bretton Woods system, as it did in the immediate post-World War II moment. Even if Taiwan regains some of its diplomatic allies, Taiwan’s international existence is precarious without formal membership in international organizations and formal diplomatic recognition from the majority of the world’s nations.
Written by Abby Huang. Since COVID-19 began spreading across Europe in February, the name “Taiwan” leapt on to the mastheads of major news organizations. One after another, international press published reports on Taiwan’s disease prevention measures and compared them with those of their own countries.
Written by Ming-yeh T. Rawnsley. When the International Journal of Taiwan Studies (IJTS) 3.1 published a topical section on ‘Taiwan, Public Diplomacy, and the World Health Assembly (WHA)’ in February/March 2020, we could hardly have participated that the world would soon be managing an epidemiological crisis on a scale not seen since the threat of Spanish Flu in 1918.
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. On March 4th, 2020, the US House of Representatives passed the TAIPEI Act with unanimous consent. TAIPEI, in this case, stands for “Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative” – a smart acronym for legislation designed to support more international space for Taiwan around the world. The US Senate had passed a similar Bill at the end of October 2019, and the House actually took up the Senate version of the Bill.
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. A recent episode in Prague illustrates in two important ways that China’s relations with the West are changing fast. It shows the need for the US and Western Europe to reimagine relations with Taiwan, bring Taiwan in from the cold of political isolation, start working towards a normalization of relations, and find a rightful place for that democratic country in the international family of nations.
Written by Frédéric Krumbein. As the only Chinese democracy that has ever existed, Taiwan shows that Chinese culture, authentic democracy and respect for human rights can coexist. It is thus pertinent to ask – to what extent is Taiwan a bastion of democracy and human rights? How has Taiwan gone about promoting these values in the region, and how will it continue to do so moving forward?
Written by Timothy S. Rich. Taiwan must find new strategies in order to strengthen formal and informal ties. However, it should not over rely on expanding unofficial relations with the US or overlook the inconsistencies of Trump’s foreign policy that could impact Taiwan. For example, the Trump Administration’s decision to cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras for two consecutive years provides a greater opportunity for Chinese influence in the region and greater pressure on Taiwan’s remaining diplomatic partners.
Written by Yu-Hua Chen.
On January 11th 2020, the incumbent president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-Wen, was re-elected to serve a second term as President of Taiwan by a land-slide majority. Tsai’s 8.17 million votes (57.1%) was a record high for Taiwan (well surpassing the record set by Ma Ying-jeou in 2008), and occurred in the backdrop of an unprecedented high turn out (19 million votes at 74.9% of the voting population). Yet the performance in the legislative election of Tsai’s party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), was far less impressive.
Written by Ratih Kabinawa. Taiwan’s presidential election is just around the corner and the entire world is watching this highly contested democratic event that will determine not only Taiwan’s domestic politics but also foreign affairs direction. While the presidential debates mainly covered the future of cross-Strait relations with Beijing, little attention is given to Taiwan’s relations with countries in Southeast Asia. How will the result of the presidential election affect Taiwan’s engagement with Southeast Asian countries?