Written by J. Michael Cole. On July 30, former president Lee Teng-hui, whom many regard as the father of Taiwan’s democracy, passed away at the age of 97. Lee leaves behind a nation that is markedly different from what it was when he entered politics decades ago. No figure—none—has had as major an impact on Taiwan than Lee, whose decisions in the crucial period between the late 1980s and early 1990s determined the future course of the nation and propelled into the “third wave” of democratisation.
Written by J. Michael Cole. The first four years under the Tsai Ing-wen administration have brought greater clarity regarding Beijing’s attitude toward Taiwan and its democracy. Although in the months prior to her inauguration on May 20, 2016, it was still possible to imagine that the two sides could find a modus vivendi despite Beijing’s longstanding antipathy toward the Democratic Progressive Party, Beijing almost immediately adopted an unforgiving course of action which soon poisoned the relationship.
Written by J. Michael Cole. A long time in the making and after many challenges, a major politico-historical TV drama about Taiwan’s democratization will finally hit TV sets nationwide on 20 January. Based on political developments and figures from the 1990s, “Island Nation” (國際橋牌社) follows the hopes, fears and travails of a wide set of fictional characters in the dramatic years of Taiwan’s transition from an authoritarian state to a democracy.
Written by J. Michael Cole. The Kuomintang (KMT) began 2019 a seemingly reinvigorated party following its successes in the previous November’s nationwide local elections. Epitomising this new energy was Han Kuo-yu, the candidate who had scored an unexpected victory against his opponent from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Kaohsiung, Chen Chi-mai. No sooner had Han assumed his seat as mayor of the southern port city than the “wave” that brought him into office elevated him to even greater heights.
Written by J. Michael Cole. Liberal democratic societies are simply incompatible with the increasingly authoritarian mindset that animates the CCP. The notion that their inhabitants — global, connected and proud of their liberties — would willingly cede their freedoms to Beijing is naive at best. Such illusions are being shattered in Hong Kong as we speak, and the idea that the Taiwanese would be any less committed to preserving their hard-earned democracy is preposterous. It says a lot about the CCP’s appeal that the only way it can quiet down discontent on its peripheries is through pacification.
Written by J. Michael Cole. Rather than isolate Taiwan and Hong Kong, Beijing’s unwillingness to accommodate different political systems on its peripheries and its inability to do “soft power” effectively has had the opposite effect: more than ever, Taiwan and Hong Kong are joining hands in their opposition to the CCP.