Truss or Sunak? The next British prime minister and policy toward Taiwan

Written by Michael Reilly. It is almost a truism to say that the UK’s policy on Taiwan is dictated by, and subordinate to, its policy towards China. All too frequently, ‘support’ for Taiwan is little more than a reaction to Chinese behaviour or actions, and it is rarely based on the intrinsic merits of engaging with Taiwan for the benefits that doing so will bring. So, Taiwan ought to feel pleased by recent opinion polls, which confidently predict Liz Truss becoming the next British prime minister on 5th September. Among her backers within the Conservative party are some prominent ‘China hawks,’ notably former party leader Sir Iain Duncan-Smith and chair of the House of Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, Tom Tugendhat.

Truss or Sunak? Who is better for Taiwan?

Written by Ben Seal. In the previous general election, which took place in December 2019, just over forty million voters gave Boris Johnson a majority of eighty seats. This summer, after the resignation of Johnson, around 180,000 Conservative Party members are choosing who will be the UK’s next Prime Minister. Will they select Sunak or Truss? As the voting goes into the final days, polls suggest that Truss will be the most likely victor, but my piece attempts to examine how both contenders would affect the UK’s relationship with Taiwan.

For The Good of Taiwan. Truss, Sunak, or Complete Indifference?

Written by Ian Inkster. The most likely manner in which the choice of Tory candidates might be of interest in Taiwan would be through foreign or economic policy. Unfortunately, though these two areas of government are meant to complement each other in normal times, our days are increasingly abnormal, thus the array of rhetoric, the focus on personalities, the exaggeration of anomalies, and the fixation on trust, veracity, and the lack thereof. And that is just in one party. Look around to your left and see the mirror image. Look across the Channel and see confusion and a reluctance to debate all major socio-economic problems. Look across the greater sea to find headless leadership. Not a charming prospect.

Chemsex, digital writing, and changes in sexual practice in 21st century Taiwan 

Written by Poyao Huang. Almost parallel to the development of Taiwan’s LGBTQ+ history is a chapter on gay men’s lived experiences with drugs—a taboo chapter that many tend to ignore. In Taiwan, it is reported that young drug users are the most vulnerable population affected by HIV/AIDS and drug abuse as we see increasing numbers of young people getting involved with drugs and HIV. Drug use among bisexual and gay men is often understood in the illegal vs recreational debate. In other circumstances, the issue of drug use is associated with health concerns (HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases), thus becoming a moral threat to social well-being.

Where did the Greatest Art Piece Come From? From Taiwan’s Music Industry to Jay Chou’s Latest Album 

Written by Dr Chen-Yu Lin. his strategy to project Chineseness as a globalising project was best exemplified by Jay Chou’s appearance on the Nasdaq screen at Time Square in January 2019. He was voted the most influential Chinese singer on Kugou (酷狗), the Chinese streaming service owned by Tencent ( 騰訊). However, other than his name, the text shown on the Nasdaq screen alongside a photo of Chou is all in Chinese. Such a projection of a globalising Chineseness caters to the hopes of the well-educated and well-travelled Chinese newly rising classes.

The Many Faces of the Hokkien-language Internet

Written by Sam Robbins. This linguistic transnationalism has never died. In the digital era, online content distinctly aimed at promoting Taiwanese Hokkien within Taiwan abounds, but there is also a wide range of content created by communities interested in Hokkien generally. Hokkien-speaking populations across national borders also found each other and formed groups on social media. They share, remix, and collate content in these spaces rather than promote particular types of language use. For example, “Min Peoples, Min Languages” (閩人閩語), a Facebook group with almost 20,000 members from Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and China, is dedicated to “sharing everything relating to Southern Min (folk) culture, (folk) songs, and Southern Min languages.”

Is a Major War Over Taiwan Inevitable?

Written by Alessio Patalano. On 04 August, Chinese military authorities launched an impressive set of military manoeuvres across the Strait of Taiwan. Compared to prior exercises with a similar operational design in mind held during cross-strait tensions in 1995-96, this iteration lasted longer, pushed the operational envelope in a more aggressive direction, and was significantly larger in scale and commitment of capabilities. Crucially, when the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command announced the end of the second phase of manoeuvres two weeks later, the Chinese military had shown how two decades of unmatched military build-up allowed Beijing to use steel to project statecraft.

The Economic Impact of COVID-19 Outbreaks in Migrant Workers’ (MW) Dormitories in Singapore and Taiwan 

Written by Jackson Teh. In crux, we should note the link between the general public’s health, both physically and mentally, with that of the migrant workers: only when local community cases are stable, and their sentiments positive, are migrant workerss allowed to move around and go to work; only when migrant workerss move around and go to work, can they feel better and hopeful about themselves and the future. Therefore, the mental well-being of both groups in a country must not be seen as isolated variables. 

From Isolated Nation to Island Nation: Searching for Taiwan’s Place in the Wider World 

Written by Fiona Lin and Sam Robbins. Crucially, this isn’t just about establishing a new Taiwanese identity but rather a process of constant reflection for all upon this island on how to have an open and thoughtful form of national identity. I am happy that “Searching for Taiwan Flavour” can be part of this process by using food, drink, nature and business in the foreground. 

The Changing role of Laotian Coffee in Taiwan 

Written by Chen Szu-An, Translated by Sam Robbins. According to data from the Lao Coffee Association, Taiwan was one of the earliest to enter the Laotian market and invest in coffee production after the government allowed foreign investment in the year 2000. There was even a period where some in Taiwan dreamed of becoming a major player in the development of Laotian coffee. In contrast with the Laotian beans that were first imported to Taiwan as cheap goods, as Taiwanese consumers became more accepting of the idea of “specialty coffee”, Taiwanese business people started to repackage Laotian beans.

TAKING A LEAF OUT OF TAIWAN (AND VIETNAM): HOW “TAIWANESE” IS TAIWANESE BUBBLE TEA? 

Written by Kuan-Ren Yun (雲冠仁), translated by Sam Robbins. As Bubble tea has taken over the world and increasingly become a symbol of Taiwan, this unique Taiwanese flavour has only been possible by importing large qualities of tea leaves, including the Vietnamese tea leaves that so many Taiwanese have grown sceptical of. Taiwanese people have felt pride in the success of bubble tea sales, but they also continue to reject foreign tea leaves and see them as only authentic when only Taiwanese tea leaves are used.

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