Written by Gerrit van der Wees. On 30 April 2021, the London-based The Economist published an article with the sensationalist headline referring to Taiwan as “The most dangerous place on earth.” The essay highlighted the increasing tension between the United States and China over Taiwan and the dangers of an armed conflict if China decides to use force against the democratic island.
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 Gerrit van der Wees. The victory of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the US Presidential elections will mean a sea change for how the United States deals with the rest of the world, and how the world perceives the United States. However, interestingly, for Taiwan, it is expected to bring continuity. Biden himself has a long history of support for Taiwan. He was already a member of the United States Senate in 1979 when the Taiwan Relations Act was approved. When he became chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2001, the first country he visited as chairman was Taiwan. Moreover…
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. As the United Nations General Assembly is preparing to meet in New York for its annual gathering, the international community is facing multiple issues in all parts of the world that need to be resolved. Among all of those issues, there is one burning question: why is a free and democratic Taiwan not part of the gathering? Why is a vibrant democracy being excluded from the international family of nations?
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. On July 30 2020, Taiwan’s “Father of Democracy,” former President Lee Teng-hui passed away in Taipei at the ripe old age of 97. He served as the country’s President from 1988 until 2000 and guided its transformation from a repressive authoritarian dictatorship that had been imposed on the island by the Chinese Nationalists of Chiang Kai-shek after World War II, to the vibrant democracy that is Taiwan today.
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. Her overwhelming victory in the elections already gave President Tsai Ing-wen a solid mandate to push domestic reforms with greater vigor, while the country’s excellent performance in combating the Coronavirus crisis gave Taiwan an unmatched international visibility, which will help in pushing back against China’s mounting political and economic aggressiveness.
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. On March 4th, 2020, the US House of Representatives passed the TAIPEI Act with unanimous consent. TAIPEI, in this case, stands for “Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative” – a smart acronym for legislation designed to support more international space for Taiwan around the world. The US Senate had passed a similar Bill at the end of October 2019, and the House actually took up the Senate version of the Bill.
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. A recent episode in Prague illustrates in two important ways that China’s relations with the West are changing fast. It shows the need for the US and Western Europe to reimagine relations with Taiwan, bring Taiwan in from the cold of political isolation, start working towards a normalization of relations, and find a rightful place for that democratic country in the international family of nations.
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. Tsai’s overwhelming victory represents a tremendous comeback, as her popularity was at an all-time low just one year ago after the disastrous local elections of November 2018. The KMT made major gains in the 218 races for county magistrates and city mayors, including the race for Kaohsiung mayor which Han Kuo-yu won.
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. In Spring 2019, the political future did not look very rosy for Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen. She had to fight a fierce internal presidential primary battle against challenger Lai Ching-te, while her likely Kuomintang (KMT) opponent, Kaohsiung mayor Han Kuo-yu, was riding high on his “blue wave” popularity.
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 Gerrit van der Wees. The Hong Kong protests also constituted a wake-up call for the people in Taiwan along the lines of “Today’s Hong Kong, Tomorrow’s Taiwan.” The erosion of freedoms in Hong Kong today is a clear example of what could happen in Taiwan tomorrow if Chinese pressure, intimidation and influence operations are allowed to run their course.