Written by Mei-Fen Kuo. A recent exhibition mounted by Australia’s government office in Taiwan––“40 years, 40 stories”––highlights the importance of people-to-people ties linking Taiwan and Australia since the office opened in Taipei in 1981. These are timely stories. In an exhibition of its own, Beijing recently lobbed missiles over Taiwan’s people’s heads to show that its territorial claims to Taiwan will not be slighted. Australia does not challenge those claims, but it does maintain close relations with people in Taiwan through trade, education, technology, and cultural exchanges, which have flourished despite the lack of official recognition.
Written by Suliljaw Lusausatj. Although Australia’s Indigenous Peoples are not Austronesian language speakers, with direct historical links to Taiwan’s Indigenous Peoples, they share a broadly similar experience of colonial histories, national governance, social and economic environments, and most importantly, reliance on traditional subsistence practices and the importance of ancestral territories. Both peoples have experienced a gradual process of formal recognition. For example, the Prime Minister of Australia and the President of Taiwan issued formal apologies for the injustice done to Indigenous communities in 2008 and 2016, respectively. Despite these similarities, the Indigenous Peoples of Australia and Taiwan have not yet opened a constructive dialogue due to geographic distance, national policies and approaches to academic studies. This also applies to educational disciplines and uneven historical memories of colonialism. Therefore, perhaps it is important to think about the possibility of using new forms of diplomacy to build these relationships drawing on the traditional practices of Australian and Taiwan Indigenous Peoples.
Written by Richard Pomfret. The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) evolution has been a combustible mixture. On the one hand, the CPTPP, as an international trade agreement that goes beyond WTO commitments, involved lengthy negotiations before consensus on the text could be reached and the CPTPP could be implemented. On the other hand, the CPTPP, as an instrument of domestic politics and of international relations, has been subject to dramatic coups de théâtre. The USA signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership after eight years of negotiations, but President Trump refused to ratify the agreement three days after taking office in January 2017. Both elements – careful negotiation of a legal text and grand political gesture – are visible in Australia’s approach to the CPTPP.
Written by Ek-hong Ljavakaw Sia. Few bilateral relationships between any other two countries in the world can be as balanced, reciprocal, and complementary as the Taiwan-Australia partnership. Located in the southernmost and westernmost parts of the Pacific, Australia and Taiwan have many features in common: nearly the exact size of the population, an equally prosperous economy, a vibrant civil society, and a healthy democratic polity.
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.
By Malcolm Turnbull. The Covid 19 pandemic, of course as the President has just observed, has disrupted the world and inflicted enormous suffering around the world. But as Taiwan has demonstrated, with ingenuity, with innovation, it can be grappled with and successfully.
Written by Jade Guan and Wen-Ti Sung. The Taiwan Strait is a key hotspot in the intensifying US-China rivalry, where the two superpowers’ spheres of influence overlap. Beijing claims the area as a uncompromisable “core interest” of sovereignty and territorial integrity, while the US seeks to maintain its close economic, political and security relationship with Taiwan. Whether it likes it or not, Australia is a major stakeholder in any future conflict arising around Taiwan. As an ANZUS treaty ally, Australia is at risk of being dragged into events.