Written by Elizabeth Freund Larus and Shirley Martey Hargis. After a protracted battle, the election of Joe R. Biden as the 46th US President is all but certain. All eyes in Taiwan are now turning to Biden to see whether he will continue President Donald J. Trump’s hardline against China and support of Taiwan. For the past four years, the Trump administration and the US Congress have responded to Beijing’s attempts to ostracize Taiwan by increasing support for Taipei. During his campaign, Biden promised to get tough on China. Yet his history as a political moderate makes it unlikely that he will be antagonistic to China, especially when it involves Taiwan.
Written by Bas van Beurden. Can the United States and China escape Thucydides Trap? While international relations experts grapple with the question whether the two powers are destined for war, a storm seems to be gathering in the Asia-Pacific, and it seems increasingly clear where lightning might strike. Considering recent developments, the Taiwan Straits seems to be the most likely battleground for Sino-American conflict. The prospect of conflict appears to be looming as Beijing closes in on Hong Kong and ratchets up its rhetoric on a forceful reunification with Taiwan.
Written by John F. Copper. In January this year, Taiwan held a key national election. The Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) president, Tsai Ing-wen, won reelection while the DPP kept its majority in the national legislature. It was an across-the-board victory for the pro-independence party. Fast forward to autumn, nine months later. How does Taiwan look politically? Not much different! Reassessing campaign policies and reality-checking that usually follow a big election have been mostly missing.
Written by Joseph Bosco. Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s brave and calmly inspirational president recently addressed the rising military threat from Communist China. She noted that Beijing’s crackdown on Hong Kong now puts Taiwan “on the front lines of freedom and democracy.” Recognizing that what is at stake is not only Taiwan’s own political independence and security, but a major front in China’s existential challenge to the rules-based, Western values-oriented international order, Tsai pledged that Taiwan would carry its share of the democratic burden.
Written by Chieh-chi Hsieh. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, President Tsai Ing-wen has been able to obtain and continue to sustain high supporting rates mainly due to the many successful policy measures put forward to contain the negative impacts of the pandemic. The first opinion poll conducted after Tsai commenced her second-term of presidency in May showed her reaching a record-high of 71.2 per cent of supporting rate. Although there have been changes to Tsai’s support rate in following months, including a 10.5 per cent drop to 61 per cent in June, she is still able to sustain a high popularity rate of 65.8 per cent according to an August survey.
Written by Xiaoxue Martin. The Tsai administration’s steadfast diplomacy exhibits more continuities with its predecessors’ foreign policy than it cares to admit. Especially the large sums of development aid and assistance to diplomatic partners are a costly and unsustainable method to protect its alliances. The global downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will only make its allies more vulnerable to economic persuasion. With only 15 diplomatic allies left, and the mainland Chinese pressure to switch recognition only rising, the stakes are higher than ever before. With these bleak prospects, Taiwan’s unofficial partners are increasingly more important than the dwindling number of official diplomatic allies.
Written by Fumiko Sasaki. After almost eight years, Yoshihide Suga became the Japanese prime minister after Shinzo Abe stepped down. This change happened amid a pandemic and a geopolitical crisis. While states have been preoccupied with Covid-19, China has become more aggressive globally. In light of the US presidential election, the Trump administration has toughened its attitude toward China. In Japan, Taro Kono – the Defence Minister until mid-September – called China a ‘security threat,’ the first time China was officially labelled as such. Suga is reported to be ready to talk to the President of Taiwan. Will Suga be tougher on China?
Written by Najee Woods (葉正忠). While Taiwan’s current mask diplomacy has been perceived as successful, the question arises: why doesn’t the KMT want the central government aiding those nations in dire need for masks? The party flip-flopping sends a mixed message to the international community that Taiwanese are not willing to lend a helping hand to combat COVID-19, which hurts the interest of all Taiwanese people, not just the ruling party. While the PRC health diplomacy is faltering, the international community has now begun to seek out Taiwan, allowing the island nation to lead the world in combating COVID-19.
Written by Shun-Te Wang. As Chinese influence infiltrates everyday life in Kinmen, local politicians still find it challenging to predict local opinion over border control issues. In early February 2020, 6 kilometres away from China, a dissatisfaction toward the government’s Coronavirus prevention measures became prominent on the Kinmen island. The island’s public demand that Taiwanese central government, which is 300 kilometres away from Kinmen, to suspend the “Three Links” to prevent the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) from entering.
Written by Po-Han Lee. Due to the recent outbreak of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), Taiwan—which is greatly affected because of its intensive communication with China—has come under the international spotlight, because of its exclusion from the World Health Organisation (WHO), which is the largest institution responsible for disease control. Drawing on the rules/practices regarding the WHO-related meetings, this essay discusses why it is so difficult for the Taiwanese to be heard by the WHO, let alone for them to be present at relevant forums.
Written by Mark Wenyi Lai. Young Taiwanese have every right to distance with China and to protect Taiwan’s achievement of democracy, independence, and prosperity. But they do need to figure out what great vision they are pursuing, what change they seek after this predictable and over-praised election.
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. Tsai’s overwhelming victory represents a tremendous comeback, as her popularity was at an all-time low just one year ago after the disastrous local elections of November 2018. The KMT made major gains in the 218 races for county magistrates and city mayors, including the race for Kaohsiung mayor which Han Kuo-yu won.