Written by Yi-Yu Lai. Lennon Wong is the director of a shelter for migrant workers in Taiwan. Before joining the shelter in the early 2010s, he was already a labour activist and worked in the Chinese Federation of Labour and the First Commercial Bank Union. Although his prior work was not directly relevant to migrant workers in Taiwan, his engagement with the labour movement may have started with the issue of migrant workers from Southeast Asia. As a result, we may thus understand the cross-border movement of migrant workers between Taiwan and the Philippines through some of his observations.
Category: New Southbound Policy
Sight and Sound: Conversations on Death Penalty between Taiwan and Southeast Asia
Written by Kar-Yen Leong. In an article by Franklin Zimring and David Johnson, we are reminded of the importance of studying the death penalty in Asia as it is the site of “…at least 85 per cent and as many as 95 per cent of the world’s execution.” The authors add that the region is a key battleground as to whether this practice will continue or become a remnant of a less civilised past. This struggle is no more intense than in East and Southeast Asian states, where the death penalty is not only an indelible part of only their legal systems but also their very societies. The decision to retain or abolish the death penalty has become a matter of intense soul-searching among states such as Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, and Malaysia, navigating landscapes replete with ghosts of colonial and authoritarian pasts. For these countries, the state’s power over life and death is a direct extension of its sovereignty. Giving up this power is to lose that sovereignty, but it also means the loss of a weapon of last resort forged to keep the forces of chaos at bay.
Roots and Routes in the Malay World and Beyond: Dialogues Between Singapore and Taiwan
Written by Doris Yang. In 2021, five artists/researchers from Singapore, Malaysia, and Taiwan gathered to present their project, The Malay World Project: Roots & Routes, in an online event held by Taipei Performing Arts Center. This event was inspired by a research project asking, ‘Where do the Malays originate?’ Not only did the project study the diaspora of Malay peoples around the Asia-Pacific, but it also created a space for dialogue between Taiwan’s Indigenous people and Malay in Singapore and Malaysia on the issues of identity and belonging. This article compares the advocacy experiences of Malay people in Singapore and Indigenous people in Taiwan. I argue that there is space to foster additional connections and collaborations between the civil societies among these two groups.
Why Should Taiwan’s Civil Society Raise Its Focus on Southeast Asia and Forge Concrete Collaborations?
Written by Liang Liang. Like most once-colonised countries, Taiwan has experienced a chequered history. However, the unique part of Taiwan, which may not be so similar to the rest of the world, is that the historical remnant has resulted in its awkward (but de facto independent) status, hence making Taiwan a coveted land to China. As a result, Taiwan has been identified as the “canary in the monetary coal mine” globally when China’s sharp power grows unprecedentedly. While Taiwan gradually receives interest from all over the world, including Southeast Asia, “the world” used to signify only China and the United States to the Taiwanese government and society. Located at the crossroads of Northeast and Southeast Asia and frequently using the slogan “The Heart of Asia” in its global tourism advertisements, it had, however, rarely shared the same interests and consciousness with its southern neighbours.
Incubating Overseas Talents for the Future Policy? Uncertain Investment in the Taiwanese Scholarship
Written by Yu-Kai Liao. A doctoral scholarship is crucial for many PhD students to start their academic careers without financial worries. This article illustrates how the Taiwanese scholarship incubates overseas Taiwanese doctoral students for future policy. However, it is an uncertain investment for the Taiwanese government since there is a foreseeable gap between governmental visions and individual interests. In addition, even though doctoral students receiving the Taiwanese scholarship must return to serve in Taiwan, it is very flexible in practice to complete this obligation and contribute to Taiwanese society.
Tension Across the Taiwan Strait: Perspectives, Concerns & Dynamics from South Asia
Written by Raian Hossain. This article looks into the reactions and concerns from Asian countries due to the complex triangular relationship of the US-China-Taiwan in the Taiwan Strait. While analysing the dynamics, it also unpacks whether this ongoing crisis would further shrink Taiwan’s space for engagements in the international space like trade, commerce, and people-to-people connectivity (not focused on diplomatic recognition). Therefore, this article takes the South Asian region as a case study to answer these two queries.
Taiwan Studies: An experience from India
Written by Manoj Kumar Panigrahi. The government and academicians must work upon a little academic knowledge of Taiwan in India. To begin with, Taiwan Studies can make space for itself within existing programmes or research centres in Northeast Asia or East Asia. Once it gains a stronghold, it can take off as a separate entity. I am optimistic about collaborating with other Taiwan Studies programmes worldwide to enhance India’s new front of research. The primary and most important goal now thus is to initiate and cultivate interest in Taiwan in India. Whether the interest in Taiwan is coming independently or clubbing it with other studies should not matter at the current stage. The debate of whether it shall be clubbed with “China studies” or be called “Sinitic” study can be taken up later.
Cultivating Support from a Distance: The Transnational Activism of Taiwan Alumni Associations in Southeast Asia
Written by Ratih Kabinawa. Since Tsai Ing-wen won power in 2016, Taiwan has experienced increased international isolation. Beijing stepped up its offensive policy toward Taiwan by blocking Taipei’s participation in international forums, for example, in the WHA, WHO, and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). The PRC also exercised its dollar diplomacy to push Taiwan’s remaining diplomatic allies to switch recognition from Taiwan to China. As a result, during Tsai’s first term (2016-2020), Taiwan lost its major diplomatic allies, leaving the country with only thirteen diplomatic allies. Consequently, the Taiwanese government has looked to overseas communities to enhance its image and visibility, including Taiwan alumni associations. The Tsai administration has given these overseas communities a significant role under Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy (NSP).
Taiwan’s New South Bound Policy 2.0: Fine-Tuning in 2022
Written by Raian Hossain. Apart from South Asia, the role of cultural exchange between ROC and all New Southbound countries needs to be emphasised further. Exchange of cultural activities such as film or food (cuisine) festivals would be good to create bondage among the people of Taiwan and New Southbound countries. Also, environmental and climate change are pressing non-traditional security aspects that might create further cooperation ground between ROC and New Southbound countries. Like how the Tsai government is committed to domestic green energy, ROC should share such ideas and efforts among New Southbound countries
A Bilingual Nation? What are the Efforts from Southern Taiwan Stakeholders?
Written by Brian Doce. In 2018, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen announced the government’s objective to transform Taiwanese society into a bilingual nation to elevate the English fluency of the Taiwanese people and upgrade the country’s national competitiveness. Looking at the current blueprint published by the National Development Council, the plan’s enumerated key performance indicators (KPI) show a government-centric outlook by emphasising the simultaneous use of Mandarin and English by government agencies for respective services.
Synergies Between Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy and Biden’s Free and Open Indio-Pacific Strategy
Written by Grace Faerber. The Biden administration is strengthening its recognition of the strategic importance of Taiwan to the FOIP, the greatest indicator being the appointment of Sandra Oudkirk as Director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the de-facto U.S. embassy in Taipei. Director Oudkirk previously served as a Senior Official for APEC at the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (APEC’s member countries include the nations of Australasia and ASEAN).
Retaining Vietnamese Talents in Taiwan
Written by Huynh Tam Sang and Tran Hoang Nhung. In her 2020 inaugural speech, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) raised the issue of talent retention, underlined the need for “a diverse talent pool” with her commitment to attract “technical, R&D, and management talents to help globalize Taiwan’s workforce.” Furthermore, when attending the release of the Talent Circulation Alliance white paper in June, she said the government would be committed to “[developing] more innovative talent” to meet the shifting of supply change to Taiwan and navigate challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.