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.
Written by Abbas Faiz. At a time when democracy is being battered by populist leaders in Western countries and demonised by authoritarian states around the globe, seeing democratic aspirations held dearly in Taiwan and Hong Kong is greatly reassuring. Taiwanese have stood fast in their resolve to protect their hard-earned democracy. Despite the real threat of annexation by China, they have not fallen into the trap of authoritarianism that characterises the spectrum of post-liberation states elsewhere.
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. I just finished watching a powerful video of a street singer standing on a street corner in Hong Kong, singing pro-democracy songs. Some policemen moved in to stop him from singing, but despite the menacing position of the police, the presence of a surrounding crowd prevented them from acting. In the end, the singer wins, and the police lose.
Written by Michael Chan. The months-long protests have generated much interest and sympathy from Taiwan’s citizens. Prominent pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong have gone to Taiwan to appeal for assistance and support, and commentators have noted that the protests may have altered the dynamics of Taiwan’s 2020 election. This essay, however, looks at Taiwan from a Hong Kong perspective and how the ‘idea’ of Taiwan has been appropriated as symbols of resistance against the Hong Kong and Chinese governments.
Written by Milo Hsieh. As the protests in Hong Kong continue, Hong Kongers and Taiwanese around the world have demonstrated a surprising level of solidarity. Taiwanese have mobilised to send protest gear to Hong Kong, and coordinate activists to speak at events, organise protest support rallies and create “Lennon Walls” to raise awareness. But just what explains such spontaneous, global demonstrations of Hong Konger-Taiwanese solidarity?
Written by Lev Nachman. Since the protests began five months ago, Taiwan watchers have commonly attributed Tsai’s growing success and Han’s continued decline to the protests. But to what degree have the Hong Kong protests actually impacted domestic politics in Taiwan? What if the Hong Kong protests never happened? What would Tsai’s position be?
Written by Jean-François Dupré. Hong Kong’s extradition bill and the mass protests it triggered have garnered much international attention. Presumably motivated by a dual attempt to infringe on Taiwan’s sovereignty and to increase Beijing’s grip over Hong Kong, the extradition debacle exposed in quite unambiguous terms the Hong Kong government’s incompetence and intractable pandering to Beijing.