Written by Wei-Ting Yen. In the past few years, two political outsiders in Taiwan have quickly accumulated popularity and became serious political contenders in elections. One is Ko Wen-Je, currently the mayor of Taipei. The other one is Han Kuo-Yu, the recently impeached mayor of Kaohsiung, the second-largest city in Taiwan. Their rise has prompted the island nation to widely debate whether populism has grown its roots in Taiwan because Ko and Han share similar populist traits.
Written by Douglas H. Paal. Four years ago, on December 2, 2016, shortly after Donald Trump had become president-elect, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen placed a phone call to Trump to congratulate him on his recent victory. Reportedly, someone trusted by Taipei with access to Trump had told Ms Tsai that her call would be received and not rejected. It was the first such opportunity for contact at that level since the United States broke diplomatic relations with the Republic of China in 1979, and so politically irresistible for Taiwan’s leader.
Written by Elizabeth Freund Larus and Shirley Martey Hargis. After a protracted battle, the election of Joe R. Biden as the 46th US President is all but certain. All eyes in Taiwan are now turning to Biden to see whether he will continue President Donald J. Trump’s hardline against China and support of Taiwan. For the past four years, the Trump administration and the US Congress have responded to Beijing’s attempts to ostracize Taiwan by increasing support for Taipei. During his campaign, Biden promised to get tough on China. Yet his history as a political moderate makes it unlikely that he will be antagonistic to China, especially when it involves Taiwan.
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. The victory of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the US Presidential elections will mean a sea change for how the United States deals with the rest of the world, and how the world perceives the United States. However, interestingly, for Taiwan, it is expected to bring continuity. Biden himself has a long history of support for Taiwan. He was already a member of the United States Senate in 1979 when the Taiwan Relations Act was approved. When he became chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2001, the first country he visited as chairman was Taiwan. Moreover…
Written by Christine Penninga-Lin. After a heated election campaign and long vote counting, Joe Biden is going to swear in as the 46th President of the United States. The interest for the 2020 US election is shared among the Taiwanese, and many found themselves preferring Trump over Biden for his administration’s Taiwan policy in the past four-year. An almost unimaginable development had these people been asked in 2016. After four years of Trump’s presidency, the US-Taiwan relation already looks significantly different than that before 2016. And so are the Sino-American relations.
Written by Alexander C. Tan. Even before the official start of the Trump presidency in January 2017, Taiwan has received attention from the then US President-elect Trump as he received a congratulatory telephone call from President Tsai Ing-Wen. That phone call was heard around the world as it broke ranks with the usual quiet approaches of the past. The next four years showed the Trump administration ‘talking up’ and actively engaging with Taiwan while ‘talking down’ and confrontational to China, e.g., the trade war, South China Seas, etc. Taiwan finally felt that a US president is willing to take their side. Indeed, Taipei Times on October 19 reported that a YouGov survey showing Taiwan is alone in Asia-Pacific where the majority of the respondents are favourable to Republican Donald Trump than to Democrat Joe Biden.
Written By Brian Hioe. The depiction of politicians as animals thus comes full circle. Whereas such depictions were previously used as a way to mock pan-Blue politicians, embracing such images is now seen as a strategy of pan-Green politicians aiming not only to connect with young people but also to engage in playful self-mockery.
Written by John F. Copper. In January this year, Taiwan held a key national election. The Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) president, Tsai Ing-wen, won reelection while the DPP kept its majority in the national legislature. It was an across-the-board victory for the pro-independence party. Fast forward to autumn, nine months later. How does Taiwan look politically? Not much different! Reassessing campaign policies and reality-checking that usually follow a big election have been mostly missing.
Written by Hiro Fu. Few observers were surprised to see Chen Chi-mai of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) win Kaohsiung’s mayoral by-election. In his victory speech, Chen called his win “Democracy’s victory, Kaohsiung’s victory.” This is an image that the DPP hopes to cast upon its return to power after Chen’s defeat in the 2018 mayoral elections. However, the DPP’s victory should not be confused with a victory for democracy, or necessarily as a victory for Kaohsiung.
Written by Frédéric Krumbein. President Lee Teng-hui’s most enduring legacy is his crucial role in the process of Taiwan’s democratisation. His predecessor, Chiang Ching-kuo, had already started the process of liberalisation. Yet despite his having lifted martial law in July 1987, Chiang died a few months later with the KMT dictatorship still intact. Lee Teng-hui then gradually implemented democratic reforms during his presidency (1988-2000).
Written by Jerome F. Keating. Lee Teng-hui, the first president of Taiwan to be elected by the people, passed away on July 30, 2020. He was a statesman among statesmen and perhaps the greatest statesman Taiwan, aka the Republic of China (ROC), has ever known. Presidents and leaders are often judged not by the totality of their lives but by how, at a critical and crucial time, they did the right thing.
Written by Denis Li, translated by Corey Lee Bell. Lee Teng-hui, Taiwan’s first democratically elected president, played a key role in the country’s journey from authoritarianism to democracy. In 12 years as president, he made six amendments to the constitution, earning him an indelible place in the history of Taiwan. The News Lens has compiled 10 of Lee’s quotes from lectures and interviews, which reflect his perspective on Taiwanese politics and cross-strait relations, as well as the expectations he harbored for himself as a political figure.