Written by Emily Weinstein. Nearly ten months after scientists identified COVID-19, China, South Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand, and other countries are seeing a return to semi-normal life, albeit with mask-wearing and other precautionary measures. In most cases, these successes have been born from the deployment of various technologies aimed at monitoring citizens who have been exposed to the virus. At the same time, government use of these technologies is alarming privacy and human-rights advocates, particularly in countries with inadequate track records in personal freedoms for citizens. Is there a happy technological medium that respects personal privacy while simultaneously managing the spread of this pandemic?
Written by Boyu Chen. Taiwan has won accolades internationally for its success in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, which is still wreaking havoc worldwide. The IT minister, Audrey Tan, has gained recognition due to the successful application of information technology to control the pandemic. This includes the digital mask map that efficiently delivers masks to citizens, along with smartphone applications for contact tracing by GPS data. The young and innovative Audrey Tan has become very popular in Japan, where many people envy Taiwan’s excellent use of information technology to counter the virus.
Written by Leo Chang and Alan H. Yang. Taiwan’s effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a growing number of countries to support Taiwan’s membership in the World Health Organization (WHO).
Written by Malcolm Turnbull. Countries that displease China have been threatened with economic consequences. It might be boycotting Japanese retailers; or stopping tourism to South Korea. Or as we have seen in Australia, holding up beef exports and slapping tariffs on wine. On the other hand, and especially in the developing world, billions are being offered for infrastructure development through the Belt and Road initiative.
By Malcolm Turnbull. The Covid 19 pandemic, of course as the President has just observed, has disrupted the world and inflicted enormous suffering around the world. But as Taiwan has demonstrated, with ingenuity, with innovation, it can be grappled with and successfully.
Written by Ian Inkster. Corruption has been a dirty word for many years. Whilst it was a normal mechanism of courtly governance in most nations at some much earlier times, the move to modernity has everywhere removed any legitimation it might have had in the past. Usually, this is seen as in contradistinction to the growth of electorates, civil societies, and democratic constitutions, however partial or ill-applied the latter often are. Nevertheless, we must also revisit the numerous exceptions and the general irregularity of this historical trend even at the heart of the claim.
Written by Kyoung M. Shin and Chan-Yuan Wong. As the initial shockwave ushered in by the COVID-19 pandemic is beginning to subsiding, it is imperative to start a more nuanced discussion about pertinent public policies. Even in countries such as Taiwan, who have thus far proven to be relatively more successful in stemming the tide, the government is still emphasising economic re-opening. It is often touted across the globe that Taiwan has been one of the more, if not the most, successful countries in combating COVID-19—and rightfully so. As of October 1, 2020, there has been a total of only 514 documented cases in Taiwan, most of which have been “imported.” While most countries around the world are still struggling to cope with the coronavirus, there has been no report of domestically contracted case in Taiwan since mid-April.
By Chan-Yuan Wong and Kyoung M. Shin. It is indisputable that Taiwan’s restrictive emergency policies have successfully brought the coronavirus under control and gave Taiwan the enviable status of a “virus-free haven.” Although one may argue that outcome should be used to measure “success” and “failure,” it is not the only criterion to evaluate public policies. Even from a purely economic efficiency point of view, how the outcome is achieved is equally important—that is, the measure of the associated costs and resource inputs. To effectively control the spread of the coronavirus, Taiwan has essentially taken a page out of its old “developmental state” playbook.
Written by Karl Chee-Leong Lee. Organized by the Taiwan-Asia Exchange Foundation (TAEF), the recent Yushan Forum (October 18) in Taipei was the fourth forum since the event’s inauguration in 2017. While the previous themes of the forums were on social and economic connectivity, regional prosperity as well as innovation of progress, this year it was resilience that took the theme of the distinguished forum. This is difficult to understand as the current COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly demonstrated how vulnerable countries and societies in the world are when responding to the unprecedented crisis individually or in a group.
Written by Wei (Azim) Hung. Economic interdependence under rapid globalization has brought about unprecedented economic prosperity. However, it has to some degree failed to promote the establishment of mechanisms for inclusive regional cooperation in Asia. Globalization has not promoted the types of positive diffusion that has been anticipated, in the sense that growing cooperation on technical and economic issues have not been able to stimulate a much greater sense of solidarity around common values.
Written by Corey Lee Bell. The annual Yushan Forum was inaugurated in 2017, yet has quickly come to assume the mantle of one of Taiwan’s leading non-governmental platforms for international dialogue. Its 2020 incarnation was no different, and featured keynote speeches from influential political figures including President Tsai Ing-Wen, Australia’s former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and Sweden’s former Prime Minister Carl Bildt. While the impact of the COVID19 pandemic meant that this year’s forum was relatively low key, its impressive register of foreign dignitaries, and the profound security, economic and health crises that formed its backdrop, arguably made it the most significant to date.
Written by Cheng-Chia Tung. COVID-19 has cost thousands of lives outside of its place of origin and has put 20% of the global population under lockdown. It is hard to envision it not having a long-lasting impact. Many influential commentators have focused on how it has exacerbated the decline of globalization and intensified political tension and strategic competition among great powers. While many may crave a “return to normalcy,” if we are to address the challenges created by the pandemic more effectively and holistically, we need to do more than simply ask “whether we’re going back to where we were.”