Written by Mei-chuan Wei. The election results led many to conclude that Taiwan voters are more concerned about the ruling DPP’s inability to deliver on its promise to create a more just society and less worried about situations in the Taiwan Straits. However, this is misleading if we consider the results of local councils. The seats of local councillors of DPP have increased, while the KMTs have decreased. How, then to interpret the signals sent by the voters as embodied in the election results from the perspective of democracy in Taiwan?
Written by Dafydd Fell. The general picture in 2022 is one of the challenger parties being further squeezed out of the party system. After the two main parties, the third largest party in the 2022 elections was the TPP, winning Hsinchu City mayor and 14 council seats. However, its impact should not be exaggerated. Despite its greater financial resources compared to other small parties, only 14 out of the TPP’s 86 candidates were elected. Given these results, the party may struggle to be competitive in the next round of national elections in 2024.
Written by Jonathan Leung. Less than a week after the 2022 local elections, the mid-terms showed a completely different result than the national election two years ago. With a landslide victory of 8.17 million votes in the 2020 presidential election, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has only received 4.74 million ballots for the mayoral and magistracy elections. Under Tsai Ing-wen’s leadership, the party has received the highest and lowest votes in history in national and local elections.
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. The main indicator of how well the parties did, was the number of city mayor and county magistrate positions they gained or lost: the ruling DPP went down from their current number of seven positions to five, while the opposition KMT went down from their current number of 14 to 13, with two of the remaining seats going to independents, and one, Hsinchu City, to the Taiwan People’s Party of Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je. In one location, Chiayi City, the election had to be postponed until December 18 because of the death of a mayoral candidate.
Written by Brian Hioe. The results of nine-in-one elections the past weekend prove reminiscent of 2018, in which the KMT surprised with unexpected gains after the crushing defeat it faced in 2016. This was particularly the case given that the KMT captured the traditional DPP stronghold of Kaohsiung as part of the “Han wave” phenomenon.
Written by Huynh Tam Sang and Shaoyun Lin. After the controversial visit of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei in August, the relationship between Taiwan and China went downhill to a political deadlock. Dialogues and negotiations have been absent, and the possibility of breaking the ice in the stalemate is uncertain. Following the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which marked a milestone for Xi Jinping’s third term as China’s most powerful leader, the forthcoming trajectory of China-Taiwan relations should be read with a thorough assessment.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Written by Guo-Huei Chen and Ming-En Hsiao. That is why Taiwan’s semiconductor industry is a key element in the strategic competition between the United States and China in science and technology. Losing Taiwan is equivalent to losing the power to speak in future innovative technology. Neither the United States nor China can afford the consequences of losing Taiwan’s semiconductors.
Written by Daniel Jia. This is the second part of a two-part Taiwan-China comparison and perspectives analysis. In Part One, differences between the two societies’ governance principles are discussed. In this part, fundamental differences between Taiwan and China are examined.