The Public Nature of Civil Disobedience: Lessons from the Sunflower and Umbrella Movement

Written by Leon N. Kunz. In March 2014, participants in the Sunflower Movement peacefully occupied the main chamber of Taiwan’s parliament to block the ratification of a controversial trade agreement with the PRC that they viewed as a threat to Taiwanese democracy. In September of the same year, protesters involved in Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement created street occupations to push for genuine democratic reform. In both cases, participants not merely occupied public space but claimed to engage in civil disobedience. According to the often-cited definition by liberal theorist John Rawls, civil disobedience is “a public, nonviolent, conscientious yet political act contrary to law usually done to bring about a change in the law or policies of the government.” To what extent did the occupations in Taiwan and Hong Kong conform to the dominant liberal civil disobedience script?

Fun Politics and the Politics of Fun in Taiwan’s g0v Community

Written by Sam Robbins. The notion that emotions can inspire political action is not new. Research into social movements contains many examples of the motivating power of passion, anger, and disgust… What is seemingly much less common is the active cultivation of positive emotions, such as happiness or fun, in such social movements. If you’re feeling content about your situation, what need is there to engage in collective action or civil engagement?

Music as Political Commitment: The Reception of Pablo Casals in Taiwan before the 1970s

Written by Min-Erh Wang. Historical musicologists focus on studying Western classical music written by Western or Western-trained composers, while ethnomusicologists primarily concentrate on traditional and vernacular music research. Against this background, music scholars in Taiwan tend to pay attention to the musical works and composers or the cultures of traditional genres, such as nanguan and the music of aboriginal people, while leaving the reception of Western classical music overlooked. However, from the late nineteenth century onwards, Western classical music has deeply rooted in Taiwan as well as other East Asian countries as part of the modernisation agenda. Furthermore, during the Cold War, Western classical music was adopted by both the US and Soviet Russia to disseminate their influence over Third World countries.

‘Bringing Back Transnational Relations’: Non-State Actors in Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy

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.

Changing Circumstances Call for Taipei to Lift Its Effort in Promoting Democracy on China and beyond

Written by Chen Jie (陈杰). There are remaining concerns urging the government of democratised Taiwan to support democratic causes and human rights in China. In fact, for the Tsai Ing-wen administration, these issues have strengthened. Despite their disdain for the one China project, politicians of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) share the sentiment that Taiwan’s own democratisation inspires China. This is echoed internationally. The former US Vice President Mike Pence spoke positively about Taiwan’s “embrace of democracy” and the example it had set for “all the Chinese people.”

A Taiwanese Soft Power?

Written by Nissim Otmazgin. Now that Taiwan has largely shed its Cold War KMT image and has gone through a democratisation process, it can project itself as a peaceful, prosperous, and above all, democratic country that might be a good ally for pro-democracy forces across the region? Given its regional setting in Northeast Asia, how does Taiwan tap into surrounding soft power competition and promote an international agenda? 

Chao Shao-kang’s Return to Taiwan politics: Will He Replay the Han Kuo-yu Drama?

Written by Dongtao Qi. After a 25-year absence from the political arena, political commentator and media guru Chao Shao-kang returned to the Kuomintang (KMT), immediately declaring his intention to run for the KMT chairmanship this July and for Taiwan’s presidency in the 2024 election. This seems to have reinvigorated a deflated KMT since its defeat in the 2020 presidential election. Much speculation among the public has also ensued about whether Chao would be a flash in the pan and do even worse than former presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu who had stirred up a “Han craze” back then.

The governmentality of Taiwan’s anti-epidemic politics

Written by Gunter Schubert. Taiwan has earned worldwide praise for its success in fighting the coronavirus crisis. It has become a shining example for those pushing the argument that state capacity in anti-epidemic politics is not preconditioned upon an authoritarian mode of government. Rather, the Taiwan case has shown that effective top-down policy steering, strict compliance of the populace with quarantine measures, hygiene measures and social distancing, and legitimate comprehensive tracing of digital data are all possible in a democracy.

Gods of Democracy: Divination and Epidemic Prevention in Taiwan, 2020

Written by En-Chieh Chao. Scientific epidemic prevention measures are essential and critical, but sometimes not enough. As demonstrated in Taiwan’s experience of 2020, other than an alert government, it takes a civil society and divine deities. After all, to prevent an epidemic literally requires human bodies to work together. The question is: what makes us work together? It could be democracy for some, and divination for others. Sometimes, it is both.

Does Press Freedom Come with Responsibility?

Written by Lihyun Lin and Chun-yi Lee. On November 18, 2020, the National Communications Commission (NCC) in Taiwan refused to renew the licence of CTiTV. This decision caused much protest from the opposition party, with the Kuomintang (KMT)’s high-pitch of ‘protecting press freedom.’ We found ironic how the KMT used Deng Nan-jung (鄭南榕) ‘s case as an example to indicate how the ruling party in Taiwan – the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) – intervened in press freedom and sacrificed Taiwan’s democracy.

How Taiwan Can Move on From Corrupt Politics of the Past

Written by Milo Hsieh. Corruption in Taiwan has been a significant issue since the democratisation in Taiwan. In the early years of Taiwan’s democracy, this was a major issue for politicians in all political parties. Despite numbers and figures showing that Taiwan has been working well to root out corruption amongst its bureaucracy and politics, high-level corruption and illicit deals between politicians and the business community continues to Taiwanese politicians.

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