Written by Ratih Kabinawa. Since Tsai Ing-wen won power in 2016, Taiwan has experienced increased international isolation. Beijing stepped up its offensive policy toward Taiwan by blocking Taipei’s participation in international forums, for example, in the WHA, WHO, and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). The PRC also exercised its dollar diplomacy to push Taiwan’s remaining diplomatic allies to switch recognition from Taiwan to China. As a result, during Tsai’s first term (2016-2020), Taiwan lost its major diplomatic allies, leaving the country with only thirteen diplomatic allies. Consequently, the Taiwanese government has looked to overseas communities to enhance its image and visibility, including Taiwan alumni associations. The Tsai administration has given these overseas communities a significant role under Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy (NSP).
Written by Iweng Karsiwen and Ratih Kabinawa. Edited by Isabelle Cheng. A former domestic worker in Hong Kong for over ten years, Iweng Karsiwen is currently the Chair of Families of Indonesian Migrant Workers (Kabar Bumi). Initially she was recruited to work in Taiwan when the door opened for Indonesian women seeking domestic work there. However, instead of going to Taiwan, Iweng found herself arriving at a Hong Kong MTR station late one evening a year later. Knowing how the brokering industry functioned at home and abroad, after returning to Indonesia, Iweng was determined to help those who worked abroad and who faced similar challenges at various stage of their migration. She has particularly campaigned to outlaw salary reduction. This, as well as other practices mentioned by Iweng, are commonly adopted by brokers in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.
Written by Ratih Kabinawa. Drawing from Risse-Kappen’s seminal book and his framework of domestic and international structures, this article explains Taiwan’s long-standing engagement with non-state actors in promoting its foreign policy objectives in Southeast Asia via a case study of the New Southbound Policy (NSP). After enjoying some success in maintaining semi-official contacts with Southeast Asian countries during the cross-Strait relation détente, the election of Tsai Ing-wen compelled Taiwan to bring transnational relations back into its foreign policy. In 2016, Taiwan’s newly elected president, Tsai Ing-wen, introduced a foreign policy flagship that stressed the essential role of people-to-people diplomacy in promoting Taiwan’s foreign policy objectives in Southeast Asia.
Written by Ratih Kabinawa. In an attempt to raise awareness about the lives of marginalised groups in Taiwan, the Taiwan Studies Programme at the University of Nottingham, U.K., organised a movie screening and discussion – Migrant Lives Matter: ‘Nine Shots’ – that showcased the dark side of migrant labour recruitment and employment in Taiwan. The film reveals some perspectives from different stakeholders, including labour advocacy networks, in addressing problems related to Taiwan’s labour migration system. Using the movie as a prompt, this article explores various advocacy networks and migrant labour movements in Taiwan. Why and how do these networks emerge and organise themselves? What are their motivations and activities? And how do these networks advocate for policy change and work to build solidarity to empower migrant workers?
Written by Ratih Kabinawa and Jie Chen. President Lee Teng-hui transformed ROC Taiwan’s foreign policy from a rigid “man and bandits don’t co-exist” mindset, a dictum which defined the Chiangs’ era, to one focusing on pragmatic diplomacy. This stance emphasised flexible ways to promote Taiwan’s international standing as its own legitimate sovereign state. President Lee used Taiwan’s achievement as a new democracy with impressive economic and technological prowess to win fresh international sympathy and support.
Written by Ratih Kabinawa. In a time of crisis, such as during pandemic, temporary migrants are typically subject to discriminatory policies and are considered society’s second-class members. The government will likely prioritise the health and safety of its citizens instead of temporary migrants, who stay for a short time either for studying or working. In Australia, for example, the prime minister, as well as the premiers of each state, have mentioned several times in their public statements on COVID-19, the need to give top priority to Australian citizens and permanent residents. Taiwan has taken a different approach.
Written by Ratih Kabinawa. Taiwan’s presidential election is just around the corner and the entire world is watching this highly contested democratic event that will determine not only Taiwan’s domestic politics but also foreign affairs direction. While the presidential debates mainly covered the future of cross-Strait relations with Beijing, little attention is given to Taiwan’s relations with countries in Southeast Asia. How will the result of the presidential election affect Taiwan’s engagement with Southeast Asian countries?