An Instagram comeback tour or a sincere bid to strengthen democracy in East Asia? Liz Truss’s Taiwan visit exposes growing Conservative Party tensions over China, but either way, Taiwan still wins.

Written by Max Dixon. Liz Truss, MP for South West Norfolk and British Prime Minister for 44 days, visited Taiwan last week, between May 16th and May 20th, meeting with senior officials, including William Lai, the frontrunner to replace current President Tsai Ing-wen, and giving a keynote speech to the Prospect Foundation that called for a more stringent British approach to China. Ostensibly the visit of a former Prime Minister has been heralded as a coup for Taipei in emboldening the position of Taiwan in the global imagination amidst growing Chinese assertiveness; indeed, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has welcomed Truss’ visit.

Leveraging Cultural Exports for Resilience: Insights from Taiwan and South Korea

Written by Tommy Hall and Margaret Siu. Global discussions about Taiwan often focus on an invasion scenario, and many observers wonder if Taiwan is adequately preparing for war. These discussions often dissect Taiwan’s hard power—military and economic factors that may dissuade Beijing. However, soft power is crucial in conflicts between imbalanced parties. Current discussion would benefit from diversifying outside hard power calculations and examining Taiwan’s soft power. Taiwan should apply lessons from South Korea’s model to bolster its ability to co-opt global support. Describing Taiwan’s soft power vision and comparing both nations’ top-down cultural promotion efforts is helpful.

KMT’s Lost Opportunity to Reinvent Itself Again for Survival

Written by Chieh-Ting Yeh. If—and it’s a big if—the KMT could reinvent itself again, it could find a way to shed the old rifts between the ideological and the opportunistic camps. It could present a platform that is clear in its stance on major social issues. It could take the lead in reviewing its own past as a perpetrator of human rights abuses, even if just to get the issue off its back. It could convince Taiwan’s voters that its China policy is no longer motivated by the older generation’s national identity crisis but based on a pragmatic approach to protecting Taiwan’s sovereignty and security. It could be hopeful. But looking at how the KMT finally settles on its presidential candidate, the KMT still has a very long way to go—and not very much time.

Will the KMT’s Generational Divide Harm its 2024 Election Prospects?

Written by Andrew LaRocca. Caesar, The Planet of the Apes protagonist who incites a rebellion to usher in a new civilization, was recently drawn into the KMT’s internal debates when Taipei City councillor Hsu Chiao-hsin changed her Facebook profile picture to Caesar amidst her escalating battle with senior legislator Fei Hongtai. In the comments, netizens joked: “How many terms can upper leaders serve? How old are those seniors?” Hsu’s Caesar reference reflected a sentiment expressed by many Taiwanese youths: the KMT and its leaders are out of touch with Taiwan’s younger generations.

The KMT Selects Its Presidential Candidate: Can Uniting All Non-Green Friends Make Taiwan Go Blue in 2024?

Written by Jasper Roctus. The results of the KMT’s ambiguous drafting (徵召) procedure of its presidential nominee, which commenced after its leadership took control of the process, should be announced by May 20. The KMT’s selection committee nevertheless already appears reluctant to accept Terry Gou’s eccentric rhetoric and, most prominently, fears electoral outfall over his close China ties. Gou himself also frequently alludes to his extensive bonds with the Chinese mainland by boasting about the leverage he holds in solving the hostile status quo across the Taiwan Strait. Considering that the KMT is still reeling from the landslide defeat of Han Kuo-yu in 2020, its last maverick businessman presidential nominee, the selection of the softer-spoken Mayor Hou as its candidate for 2024 appears to be a foregone conclusion. By early April, the KMT had allegedly already reached an internal consensus on its candidate – a clear reference to being ready to select Hou.

Hou You-yi and Terry Gou in the KMT nomination process: electoral prospects for 2024

Written by Mingke Ma. Unlike the nomination process for the General Election in 2020, the Chinese Nationalist Party (中國國民黨, KMT) decided to forgo a party primary election to nominate its presidential candidate for the upcoming General Election in 2024 to ‘avoid internal strife’. New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) and the founder of Foxconn, Terry Gou(郭台銘), have publicly declared their interest in endeavouring for the KMT’s presidential nomination. In this piece, I will show that although Hou seems more likely to receive the KMT’s final nomination, Terry Gou remains an important asset for the KMT’s overall electoral prospects.

Internal Divisions, Regardless of the Outcome: The KMT’s Troubled Candidate Decision-Making Process

Written by Brian Hioe. At this stage in the election, the KMT has already announced some of its planned legislative candidates. In addition, the KMT is slated to announce its presidential candidate sometime this month, with a party congress planned in July. But the KMT’s process to decide both the presidential and legislative candidates that the party will field in the 2024 elections has already been controversial. Moreover, the primary outcome threatens to further divide the party at a time when the pan-Blue camp is already plagued by in-fighting. Likewise, the controversies that have already occurred reflect the party’s unresolved internal divisions at a time when the party likely needs unity if it hopes to prevail in the 2024 elections.

Battle for the KMT: For election or ideology?

Written by Adrian Chiu. It was generally thought that political parties are either election-based or ideology-based, depending on the factions dominating the party. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), having lost two presidential elections in a row, are now at crossroads to decide which they are for. As a mainstream party in a two-party system, the KMT is generally assumed to be aimed at winning elections. But as a former authoritarian party, adapting to electoral politics has always been tricky for the party. The increasingly vocal ‘deep blue’ faction within the party also seemed to suggest otherwise. As the general elections draw near, the temperature is rising for the battle for the party.

Wave Makers on Netflix: A Vision of Taiwanese Politics Not ‘Amid Tensions’  

Written by Chieh-Ting Yeh. “Wave Makers” (2023; ​人選之人-造浪者​) is a new drama on Netflix about political staffers trying to win a presidential election in the last few months of the campaign. This may sound like the premise of many television shows in the political intrigue genre, but it is the first of its kind from Taiwan to be available to a worldwide audience. The drama addresses various political issues relevant to contemporary Taiwan, including environmental concerns, energy policies, and workplace sexual harassment, reflecting the ongoing public debates on these topics. But it is glaring in what it is missing: Taiwan-China relations.

Can Democracy be fed (or fed up)? Economic Factors Towards Democratic Development and Political Efficacy in Taiwan Presidential Election (1996-2020)

Written by The Fengze Strategy. Taiwan’s 2024 presidential election is approaching. Although candidates from different major parties have yet to stand out representing their parties, economic development has been considered an essential issue in every campaign. Some political entrepreneurs thought that democratic values could not be sufficient for economic development; in other words, citizens who prefer economic development the most would consider the so-called democratic value to be “a castle in the sand”. In this article, we will examine the presidential elections in Taiwan from 1996 to 2020 through the basic factor of economic development, the gross domestic product (GDP).

How Does Recipients’ Corruption Taint the International Image of Taiwan’s Foreign Aid?

Written by Ernie Ko. Taiwan’s foreign aid, officially known as official development assistance (ODA), has rarely been mentioned as a good practice in the circle of international press and international aid agencies. On the contrary, corruption, inefficiency, non-transparency, and unaccountability are often associated with the recipient countries of Taiwan’s aid. So, the question is, does this negative stereotype unavoidable?

Europe’s Dream of Strategic Autonomy

Written by Gunter Schubert. Slowly, the dust settles after French President Emmanuel Macron’s remarkable performance during his state visit to China from April 5-7. However, it is a safe bet that his statements on the danger of the European Union (EU) being drawn into a war by the US because of Taiwan, a place of no interest to Europeans, will have long-lasting repercussions for the transatlantic relationship.

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