Clash of Mask Diplomacies? The COVID-19 and Changing Perceptions of China and Taiwan in Central and Eastern Europe

Written by Tamás Peragovics and Ágnes Szunomár. It has become a truism that China’s mask diplomacy seeks to enhance the country’s global standing in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. By exporting medical aid and equipment, the Beijing Government rushes to the rescue of countries still struggling to contain the virus. Positioning itself as saviour rather than villain, China’s motivation is to cultivate a global aura of blissful ignorance with regards to the outbreak’s early mismanagement, including the silencing of Chinese whistle-blowers who emphasized contagion risks and tried to warn of the severity of the new pathogen.

In between giants: how a EU-Taiwan partnership could ensure digital benefits for all

Written by Maaike Okano-Heijmans and Brigitte Dekker. The protection of digital freedom of speech, transparency and inclusiveness is at stake as governments resort to (sometimes intrusive) digital means to monitor and combat the coronavirus. At the same time, economic competitiveness in the digital age requires innovative approaches, as the US-China rivalry profoundly reshapes the global tech landscape and global governance. This is where Taiwan and the European Union (EU) have similar interests and stand to benefit from exchanging best practices.

The EU and Taiwan – Realpolitik Trumps ‘Values Diplomacy’

Written by Michael Reilly. The European Union’s relations with China are currently at their lowest level since at least the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, if not earlier. Growing disillusion with China’s economic and predatory business policies under Xi Jinping had already led to the EU branding China a ‘systemic rival’ in 2019. Since then, unease has only grown and relations further soured, most recently over China’s crude attempts to use the Coronavirus pandemic for propaganda purposes, followed by its imposition of a draconian National Security Law on Hong Kong in disregard of its obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984.

Taiwan and Europe: An Uneasy History

Written by Ian Inkster. The historical relations of Taiwan with Europe are by no means unproblematic. When free of Chinese imperial power, Taiwan became subject to the western Great Powers and then to an expanding, industrially founded Japanese colonialism and militarism. At this point, relations with Europe were commercially close but politically and culturally distant. Led by Britain, the European involvement in Taiwan was never truly benign. After the war of 1937-45, Europe’s interest in Taiwan was principally as a developing economy that traded in a range of complementary goods and services.

Prospect of Malaysia as the Gateway for Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy (NSP) Push

Written by Karl Chee Leong Lee. Despite lingering pessimism surrounding the impact of COVID-19 on Southeast Asia’s economy, Malaysia has unexpectedly enjoyed a new wave of Taiwanese investment. According to official figures released by the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) last April, the value of inbound manufacturing-based investment from Taiwan has increased seven-fold. In 2019 Taiwan became the fourth largest FDI source for Malaysia’s manufacturing sector after China, the US and Singapore.

Beyond Economics: The Value and Meaning of the New Southbound Policy

Written by Dr. Alan H. Yang and Tung Cheng-Chia. Great power competition between the United States and China has intensified under the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic. Whether in the World Health Organization or the United Nations, this intensification is compelling states to reorient their political alignment. Taiwan needs to reflect on and strategically reposition itself in this geopolitical tug-of-war. A top priority for the island-nation is to strengthen its links and influence in Asia.

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