Written by Andreas Sierek. A migrant construction worker was enjoying himself at a river. We might have disapproved of him being drunk, drugged and naked. We even might have been incensed by his rampageous behaviour. But shooting him dead? Like a stray dog infected with rabies? Not with one bullet but with nine? Insisting that the man – while lying on the dirt, in a pool of blood, dying – must be handcuffed before medics can approach him?
Written by Isabelle Cheng. On 31 August 2017, Nguyen Quoc Phi, an undocumented Vietnamese worker, was shot dead by a policeman in Hsinchu, northern Taiwan. Public responses to Phi’s death were polarised between pro-police campaigners, who supported the police’s use of force, and human rights activists, who emphasised the plight of migrant workers who are exploited by brokers and employers and who are regulated by a hostile guest worker system. This polarisation is also evident in cyberspace. The reporting of Phi’s death in September 2017, the sentencing of the policeman in July 2019, and the deaths of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks in the U.S. in May and June 2020 prompted Taiwanese netizens to comment on PTT.
Written by Elsa Sichrovsky. Due to Taiwan’s geographically strategic position in Southeast Asia and proximity to the Golden Triangle of the heroin trade, it has had a long relationship with narcotics, dating back to opium smoking in the Qing dynasty. In the 1800s, the opium trade thrived following the Opium Wars in China, bringing in more than half of Taiwan’s revenue by 1892. During the Japanese colonial period (1895-1945), the Japanese established an opium monopoly in Taiwan which benefited them economically while they maintained an appearance of opposition to opium smoking. Through sales to hospitals and pharmaceutical companies around the world, opium composed up to 46 per cent of yearly colonial income from Taiwan until 1904.
Written by Leo Chang and Alan H. Yang. Taiwan’s effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a growing number of countries to support Taiwan’s membership in the World Health Organization (WHO).
Written by Kyoung M. Shin and Chan-Yuan Wong. As the initial shockwave ushered in by the COVID-19 pandemic is beginning to subsiding, it is imperative to start a more nuanced discussion about pertinent public policies. Even in countries such as Taiwan, who have thus far proven to be relatively more successful in stemming the tide, the government is still emphasising economic re-opening. It is often touted across the globe that Taiwan has been one of the more, if not the most, successful countries in combating COVID-19—and rightfully so. As of October 1, 2020, there has been a total of only 514 documented cases in Taiwan, most of which have been “imported.” While most countries around the world are still struggling to cope with the coronavirus, there has been no report of domestically contracted case in Taiwan since mid-April.
Written by Cheng-Chia Tung. COVID-19 has cost thousands of lives outside of its place of origin and has put 20% of the global population under lockdown. It is hard to envision it not having a long-lasting impact. Many influential commentators have focused on how it has exacerbated the decline of globalization and intensified political tension and strategic competition among great powers. While many may crave a “return to normalcy,” if we are to address the challenges created by the pandemic more effectively and holistically, we need to do more than simply ask “whether we’re going back to where we were.”
Written by Bonny Ling. Taiwan continues to be dogged by cases of extrajudicial killing, violating the fundamental human right to life, liberty, and security of person. A recent prominent case is the killing of a young Vietnamese migrant worker, Nguyen Quoc Phi, in August 2017 by a novice police officer in Hsinchu. The killing of Nguyen, immortalised in the two Taiwanese documentaries of the same name “Nine Shots” by Su Che-hsien and Tsai Tsung-lung, was marked by police brutality. The title is a reference to the number of bullets fired by the police officer in mere 12 seconds, killing an unarmed and unclothed Nguyen.
FROM The Taiwan United Nations Alliance (TAIUNA), The Citizens of Taiwan TO the Honorable Dr. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the UN: For many years since 1972, Taiwan has been and is, once again, knocking on UN’s door seeking membership in this global inter-governmental organization. As part of the greater world population, the 23.5 million people of Taiwan are without representation and have been unjustly excluded since 1971.
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.
Written by Yao-Hung Huang. On May 28th, 2020, China approved the controversial national security law for Hong Kong. It is expected that Beijing’s latest intervention could well be the last straw that prompts many of its residents to leave the special administration region, and this has arguably already began to occur.
Written by Hsin-Chi Lee. In the 2020 Taiwanese presidential election held in January, Taiwan’s first female president Tsai Ing-wen won her second term. At the same time female representation reached a record high- 42% of legislators are now women, which is top rate in Asia.