Written by Gerrit van der Wees. In all probability another turbulent year ahead for Taiwan, but President Tsai Ing-wen’s steady hand, together with a resilient population, and a broadening network of friends in like-minded countries across the globe, will help Taiwan weather the storms ahead.
Category: Gerrit van der Wees
Taiwan’s mid-term elections: Most politics is local, the KMT remains a force to be reckoned with, and the DPP needs to regroup
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.
How not to avoid a war over Taiwan: Misconceptions in the policy brief by a task force on US-China Policy
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. On October 12th, 2022, a task force on US-China relations of the Asia Society published a policy brief titled “Avoiding war over Taiwan.” While it is laudable that some academics want to avoid a war over Taiwan, the analysis of this policy brief is fundamentally flawed on a number of key points.
Biden Speaks Again: The End of Strategic Ambiguity?
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. The press and think tanks, on their part, need to reassess their understanding of “strategic ambiguity”: they need to come to a clearer understanding of its origins – as reiterated in the quotes from former NSC Director Robert Suettinger’s book – and arrive at the unavoidable conclusion that it does not equate policy. Rather, it is, at best, a mode of operation determining how to calibrate a response. As described above, the policy itself on how to (help) defend Taiwan is laid down clearly in the Taiwan Relations Act.
Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan did go through: A major milestone in Taiwan’s relations with the rest of the world
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. The picture circulating on the internet of Speaker Pelosi and President Tsai Ing-wen standing next to each other was indeed a powerful image of two women who are determined to bend history in the right direction. The main conclusion of the episode is that it was crucial that Speaker Pelosi stood her ground and pushed through her plans for a visit to Taiwan. It is a win for democracy and a major milestone in Taiwan’s relations with the rest of the world.
Lessons from Ukraine: Beijing should think twice about attacking Taiwan
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. It is understandable that the invasion is causing anxiety in Taiwan, as the country is similarly threatened by an aggressive and totalitarian neighboring country, China, which unjustly sees Taiwan as part of its territory. However, Taiwanese can take comfort in a number of facts that are in their favor.
Taiwan’s international space: expanding or contracting? Shining at the Summit for Democracy but losing Nicaragua
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. December 9 and 10, 2021 proved to be an interesting moment for Taiwan’s international space: on the one hand the country was invited to President Biden’s Summit for Democracy in Washington, where Digital Minister Audrey Tang gave a stellar performance in showcasing how Taiwan has enhanced its democracy in spite of the threats posed by China, and the hardships caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. On the other hand, on December 9, 2021 it was announced that Nicaragua was switching its diplomatic ties from Taipei to Beijing, reducing the total number of formal diplomatic ties down to fourteen.
President Biden’s Emerging Clarity on Taiwan: “Strategic ambiguity” is not a policy, but more like a bicycle gearshift
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. Over the past few months, President Biden has made some statements that show increasing clarity on where he stands on Taiwan. he first episode took place in mid-August 2021, when – in the aftermath of the Fall of Kabul and the US withdrawal from Afghanistan – Biden was asked in an ABC interview by George Stephanopoulos whether other allies such as Taiwan could count on the Americans. In his answer, Biden stated: We have made — kept every commitment.
What Resolution 2758 doesn’t say: Bringing Taiwan in from the cold of political isolation
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. 25 October 2021 marked the 50th anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly vote, which switched the Chinese representation in the UN from “the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek” to those representing the government in Beijing.
The Fall of Afghanistan: Why Taiwan is Fundamentally Different?
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. The scenes from the tragic events unfolding in Afghanistan are heart-wrenching. One would have hoped that the withdrawal by the United States and its Allies could have been planned such that it would be taking place in a more orderly fashion. Many an analysis will be written on this topic (…) A brief scan of the internet shows that Beijing’s propaganda machine is already hard at work to capitalize on the moment by publishing several articles implying that Taiwan could befall the same fate.
Taiwan Deserves Its Rightful Place Under the Sun
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.
The Biden Administration and Taiwan: Positive Opening Moves
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?