Written by Leon N. Kunz. In March 2014, participants in the Sunflower Movement peacefully occupied the main chamber of Taiwan’s parliament to block the ratification of a controversial trade agreement with the PRC that they viewed as a threat to Taiwanese democracy. In September of the same year, protesters involved in Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement created street occupations to push for genuine democratic reform. In both cases, participants not merely occupied public space but claimed to engage in civil disobedience. According to the often-cited definition by liberal theorist John Rawls, civil disobedience is “a public, nonviolent, conscientious yet political act contrary to law usually done to bring about a change in the law or policies of the government.” To what extent did the occupations in Taiwan and Hong Kong conform to the dominant liberal civil disobedience script?
Written by Chen Jie (陈杰). There are remaining concerns urging the government of democratised Taiwan to support democratic causes and human rights in China. In fact, for the Tsai Ing-wen administration, these issues have strengthened. Despite their disdain for the one China project, politicians of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) share the sentiment that Taiwan’s own democratisation inspires China. This is echoed internationally. The former US Vice President Mike Pence spoke positively about Taiwan’s “embrace of democracy” and the example it had set for “all the Chinese people.”
Written by Ferran Perez Mena. During the past year, the Hong Kong protests, along with the newly approved National Security Law, have generated much anxiety in Taiwan. They have been perceived by both the DPP’s political elite and the Taiwanese public as a premonition of what lies ahead for Taiwan. One of the popular slogans of the protests, “Today Hong Kong, Tomorrow Taiwan” (今天的香港,明天的台灣), perfectly epitomises the widespread unease that such political events are producing and the apparent inevitability of Taiwan’s downfall.
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 Lee Faulkner. The imposition of national security laws appears to be the final straw for Hong Kong. Such is the level of decline in in the city that formerly set the standard for jurisprudence in Asia that we don’t even know which legal system the new laws will fall under, nor which bodies will enforce them.
Written by Jacques deLisle. Tsai Ing-wen begins her second and final term as Taiwan’s president buoyed by her adept handling of a pair of crises. But the skill, and luck, of Tsai and the Democratic Progressive Party-led government are likely to be tested on several fronts
Written by J. Michael Cole. The first four years under the Tsai Ing-wen administration have brought greater clarity regarding Beijing’s attitude toward Taiwan and its democracy. Although in the months prior to her inauguration on May 20, 2016, it was still possible to imagine that the two sides could find a modus vivendi despite Beijing’s longstanding antipathy toward the Democratic Progressive Party, Beijing almost immediately adopted an unforgiving course of action which soon poisoned the relationship.
Written by Justin Kwan. In an attempt to reach audiences in Taiwan and Hong Kong, China has attempted to use both Hokkien and Cantonese in its messaging through media and popular culture, eliciting mixed responses from locals in both places. In the case of Taiwan, Beijing resorted to a strategy of direct coercion in 2018, when it released a dubbed propaganda video in Hokkien titled ‘God of War’. The video featured bomber aircrafts flying around Taiwan, a warning from Beijing for the islands Taiwanese-speaking activists to curb their so-called ‘pro-independence’ activities.
Written by Adrian Chiu. A large number of Hong Kong people travelled to Taiwan, personally covering experiences, just to share the sentimental moment of the Tsai’s predicted victory. Hong Kongers were present at electoral rallies in Taiwan, waving the anti-ELAB movement flag and slogan, “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Times.” Although these Hong Kong people may not vote in Taiwan, they nevertheless all campaigned for Tsai.
Written By Wen-Ti Sung. Taiwan hosted its quadrennial presidential and legislative elections on 11 January 2020. Shaping the contours of these critical elections is first and foremost the impending US-China strategic rivalry, as manifested in the Hong Kong crisis and the resultant prioritisation of national security above all other campaign issues on the part of the Taiwanese electorate.
Written by Mei-chuan Wei. Han’s campaign strategies were ‘unconventional’, especially given his position as the KMT candidate. For example, his rhetoric intentionally appeals to ‘common folks’ (shumin), the majority of whom are working class people and have been the main social base of the DPP’s political support. Han’s anti-elitist position was also considered unusual, for although the DPP is generally seen as increasingly elitist, the KMT has always been perceived to be the elitist party.
Written by Hsin Hsin Chang and Ian Inkster. More globally and problematically, if the Hong Kong element should indeed serve to determine outcomes, then it may be seen as the leading non-western component of a general global trend to distraction capitalism, where democratic processes that should revolve around general and fundamental social and economic policies are squeezed out by rhetorical clamour focusing on personalities, external events and one overwhelming internalised but badly digested issue.