Written by Gerrit van der Wees. It is understandable that the invasion is causing anxiety in Taiwan, as the country is similarly threatened by an aggressive and totalitarian neighboring country, China, which unjustly sees Taiwan as part of its territory. However, Taiwanese can take comfort in a number of facts that are in their favor.
Written by Chieh-chi Hsieh. In sum, there is no reason to believe that imminent conflict in the Taiwan strait would occur after the Russia-Ukraine war outbreak. However, it is imperative to underscore that the proposition is not formed based on comparing Taiwan’s relative advantages over Ukraine. Instead, it is underlined by how the ongoing war has been perceived by not only Taiwan’s general public and government but also Xi and the CCP.
Written by Yu-Shan Wu. Comparisons have been made between Ukraine and Taiwan, with the ominous implication that Taiwan may become Ukraine in the foreseeable future, i.e., a weak country attacked by its much stronger neighbour. Most of the comparisons are shallow in that they simply draw on the obvious power asymmetry that exists between Russia and Ukraine and between mainland China and Taiwan, as well as the hostile intention of the mighty country toward the lesser power. However, the structural similarities between the two cases run much deeper.
Written by Yi-Yu Lai. While the COVID-19 has stopped many individuals from travelling and interacting over the last two years, some cultural exchanges that we never expected to see have emerged during the pandemic. For example, on February 18th, 2022, people in Dongyin, an insular township in Taiwan’s Matsu Islands, had their first online workshop with those from Yonaguni, an island that belongs to Okinawa. Both islands are considered frontiers in their respective countries, and they had many comparable fates throughout history. Therefore, such a cultural exchange between the islands was particularly impressive because it was an activity with the islands as the focal point.
Written by Brian Hioe. Civil society groups demonstrated on Friday, March 18th to call for the release of imprisoned Taiwanese human rights activist Lee Ming-che in China. The demonstration took place the night prior to the fifth anniversary of Lee’s detention, which took place after he crossed into China from Macau on March 19th, 2017.
Written by Judy Lee. I very well understand why he considers Taiwan a promising base for the initiative—a general acceptance of Hong Kong and Hong Kongers as an individual entity in its own right, favourable geographical location for necessary shipments and visits, highly-educated Traditional Chinese users ready to provide assistance…; but most importantly, just as in my own case, it is the generosity and amicability that Taiwan people offer that encourages continuous work and cooperation towards a more comprehensive narrative for the Greater China area.
Written by Brian Hioe. Comparative assessments of both political contexts, then, are highly necessary, despite the large differences in the geopolitical outlook for both, when China itself often has both Taiwan and Hong Kong in mind as audiences for its political signalling.
Written by Jieh-min Wu. The deterioration of the situation over the last two years has been largely shaped by the global geopolitical environment, with growing Sino-American tensions or the “New Cold War” playing a critical part in Beijing’s decisions on Hong Kong. Given that the Xi regime is the source of Hong Kong’s political authority, the situation is unlikely to change unless Beijing loosens its grip. Even so, things can be done to preserve a glimmer of hope for the future of democracy in Hong Kong.
Written by Dennis Kwok and Johnny Patterson. A little more than a year after the introduction of Hong Kong’s National Security Law, Taiwan does indeed seem to be the next target of an increasingly assertive Chinese foreign policy. PLA warplanes now regularly breach Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, often more than 150 in a row. At the same time, Taiwan has invited US marines to help shore up the island’s military forces. Throughout all of this, the aggressiveness of the rhetoric surrounding these issues continues to ratchet up.
Written by Lynn Ng Yu Ling. From the domestic caregivers in both locations, I gather that although there are important differences in the hiring criteria for employers, the root problem of employers having the upper hand in an asymmetrical working relationship remains unresolved. On the whole, it is harder for Taiwanese families to hire a ‘migrant maid’ (wai yong) than in Singapore, and several differences in the hiring process seem to indicate that Taiwan treats home care more seriously.
Written by Yu-an Kuo 郭育安, translated by Sam Robbins. Despite being a common food in Taiwan, Taiwan’s climate makes it unsuitable for cultivating edible birds nest. Consumption of edible birds nest in Taiwan can be traced back over 200 years, but this consumption has always relied on imports. The product’s history in Taiwan is tied to the history of Dihua street in Taipei, which developed towards the end of the Qing dynasty. This street became a main sight for the selling of exported “Chinese goods” (華貨）in Taiwan, including Ginseng, Jujubees, louts seeds and shark fins. Official statistics suggest that Taiwan currently imports over 10 tonnes over birds nest each year, with over 90% being imported from Indonesia. However, this number is likely unreliable since the illegal smuggling of birds nest remains a constant problem in Taiwan.
Written by Chiao-Wen Chiang. While the theory of Taiwan being the homeland of Austronesian languages is familiar to many people in Taiwan, few are familiar with the name Robert Andrew Blust (1941-2022), the world’s leading linguist who brought out this idea from a linguistic perspective in the early 1980s.