Taiwan’s Highly Anticipated Historical TV Drama ‘Island Nation’ to Premiere on 20 January

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.

As Elections Approach, the KMT Looks Increasingly Rudderless

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.

Hong Kong is a Mess for Beijing; Taiwan Would be a Nightmare

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.

Above All, The Legitimacy of Taiwan’s Democracy

Written by J. Michael Cole. Despite the high polarization that characterizes Taiwanese politics, the country’s three-decade-long democratic history has, to its credit, witnessed near-universal respect for those ideals. The three transitions that have occurred since democratization — in 2000, 2008 and 2016 — have been peaceful; even the paper-thin re-election of Chen Shui-bian in 2004, during which some members of the opposition camp engaged in acts of violence, never came close to being regarded as illegitimate.

Trouble in the Blue Camp

Written by J. Michael Cole. More and more, there are signs that the mainstream KMT is trying to reassert control over its destiny. And that core KMT, as history has shown, can be ruthless. Within a matter of months, Han the savior has turned into a liability, and a bit of an embarrassment, for the party. What happens in the next weeks and months is anyone’s guess, but it is easy to conclude that Han and his supporters might not like what the blue camp has in store for them. 

Media and Free Expression in Taiwan Are Under Attack: What Can be Done?

Written by J. Michael Cole. With Taiwan’s election campaign shifting into high gear, an escalating campaign of intimidation by one camp and a media consortium that backs its candidate threatens to seriously undermine the ability of journalists and political commentators, both local and foreign, to do their work. By doing so, that camp is hoping to impose its discourse on the process and to limit, if not silence outright, any criticism of its candidate and the proxies that are aligned with it.

The Mess Before the Storm: Making Sense of the Blue and Green Camps’ Primaries

Written by J. Michael Cole. In recent months, no subject has been brought up more often by Taiwan watchers than the party infighting that has been developing within the blue and green camps in the lead-up to Taiwan’s general elections next January. Much of that interest stems from the impact that the candidate selection, and of course the election itself, will have on Taiwan’s future external policy at a time of unprecedented engagement opportunities for the island-nation.

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