Written by Milo Hsieh. Recently, discussions around energy have emerged again as interest groups fight over whether it is right for the Tsai administration to install a new natural gas receiving station in Taoyuan near an algae reef habitat. Although the term “algae reef (藻礁)” became social media’s hot topic in Taiwan for a while—similar to how “Salmon” has grabbed the attention of many these past weeks—underlying energy issues have not really been discussed.
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. We are almost two months into the Biden Administration, and—contrary to what was argued in a recent article by Prof. John F. Copper—the new US administration has already shown on several key moments that it is strongly supportive of Taiwan. It is keen to help maintain Taiwan’s freedom and democracy and promote its place in the international community—a positive beginning. But where do we go from here?
Written by Dongtao Qi. After a 25-year absence from the political arena, political commentator and media guru Chao Shao-kang returned to the Kuomintang (KMT), immediately declaring his intention to run for the KMT chairmanship this July and for Taiwan’s presidency in the 2024 election. This seems to have reinvigorated a deflated KMT since its defeat in the 2020 presidential election. Much speculation among the public has also ensued about whether Chao would be a flash in the pan and do even worse than former presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu who had stirred up a “Han craze” back then.
Written by John F. Copper. Shortly before Donald Trump left office, a top government leader in Taiwan proclaimed that he was the best U.S. president for Taiwan ever. Taiwan’s residents felt the same. President Trump ranked extraordinarily high in local public approval ratings. He was considered pro-Taiwan. Most believed he liked Taiwan and would protect it from China.
Written by Ian Inkster. As Joseph Cummings has summarised recently for Redaction Politics, ‘experts believe that Mr Biden’s policy will fall short of provocation of mainland China and Mr Trump’s open empowerment of Taiwanese militarisation,’ and there is little reason yet to discount that view. The fact that the US has approved recent arms purchase deals with Taiwan may mean no real change in the long history of less-than-best military techniques being sold off to Taiwan as part of the old cold-war alliance.
Written by Chieh-chi Hsieh. On 16 January, Taoyuan city councillor Wang Hao-yu of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was revoked by a whopping 84,582 ‘in-favour’ ballots. This was a staggering contrast to the 16,292 ballots received that won him his re-election merely two years prior. This election makes Wang the first city councillor from one of Taiwan’s six special municipalities to be recalled. More importantly, one can tentatively make a case that this is an important success for opposition parties such as the Kuomintang (KMT) and other pan-blue parties (e.g., People First Party) regaining political clout against the incumbent DPP government.
Written By Lilian Tsay. The Japanese empire’s importance placed on the Taiwanese sugar industry can be seen in the design of the 1935 “40 years of colonial rule” exhibition, which had a whole section dedicated to the sugar industry and provided free sugar water to visitors. The sugar industry was a crucial part of the colonial economy; it also heavily impacted Japan’s dietary customs. Japan did not produce its own white sugar. Before the Meiji era, deserts in Japan were made using either dark sugar from Okinawa, wasanbon from Shikoku, or from white sugar imported from Southern China. Just as described in “Southward Expansion to Taiwan,” only with Taiwan’s help could Japan’s confectionery industry successfully develop alongside the expanding Japanese empire.
Written By William Kung 孔德廉. Regarding the dramatic changes brought about by the “spinach industry,” Wang Weiren, an old overseas Chinese who has lived in the Philippines for 60 years, described it as “locusts crossing the border.” Although the gambling industry has helped drive obvious GDP growth in the Philippines, the economic gains have not been shared by the public at large. Instead, it has been concentrated in the hands of a few Chinese business owners. Not only that, a large number of Chinese ethnic groups in the industry are not prepared to integrate into the local area. Instead, they are reluctant to change their ways and prone to conflict with the locals. If China and the Philippines were ever to join forces to crack down on illegal businesses, the first thing to bear would be the Philippine economy, which is currently overly dependent on the gambling industry.
Written By Willian Kung. Ten years ago, Many Chinese, Malaysians, and Indonesians left their hometowns and moved to the Philippines to chase the gold rush triggered by online gambling. In recent years, the latest wave has attracted many Taiwanese. According to statistics from the Philippine Immigration Bureau, in 2018, more than 200,000 Chinese workers applied for work visas, 90% related to online casinos. There are also many Taiwanese living in the Philippines. In 2016, the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines issued a message stating “recently, there has been an increasing number of Taiwanese people going to the Philippines to work in the gambling industry, please be wary that risks often outweigh the rewards. Many have had their passports detained.”
Written by Timothy S. Rich and Madelynn Einhorn. How does the Taiwanese public view COVID-19 policies and do these efforts boost evaluations of President Tsai Ing-wen? Taiwan received international acclaim for its aggressive response to the pandemic. Such policies included standard social distancing and mask mandates seen in most countries, with centrally coordinated quarantine and contract tracing policies, and fines of over $3000 US for violating quarantines. Due to these efforts, people in Taiwan are 3,400 times less likely to die from COVID-19 than people living in the U.S.
Written by Ko Lien. The demand for pig and pork products increased, but businessmen had begun to import pigs from across the strait since supplies have dwindled. As refrigeration technology was still in its infancy at this point, live pigs were imported. However, many overdue would die on the journey to disease or ship wreckage. In response to this, Taiwan’s first-ever insurance company was founded for protecting against pig loss.
Written by Peijun Guo. As the rumbling from the exhaust engine ripped through the peaceful night, many youths are gathered in convenience stores and community parks of Taipei’s Wanhua district. Some smoke, some mess around, and then eventually the group moves on to the next place to hang out and waste some time. This group of youths who do not get on well at school and who wander about the city streets are part of the background murmur of parts of urban Taipei. They wander about as if they are waiting for something, whether it is to go to school, to find a job, or just for the juvenile detention center to take them in.