Written by Dominika Remžová. Over the last year and a half, Lithuania has been at the forefront of the EU’s improving relations with Taiwan and worsening relations with China. This culminated with Lithuania leaving the 17+1 framework of cooperation between China and 17 (now 16) eastern European countries on the one hand and the opening of the Taiwanese Representative Office in Vilnius on the other. The two events occurred in May and November 2021, respectively, with the latter being particularly controversial, as China argued that the denomination ‘Taiwanese’ breached the EU’s One China policy, which led to the imposition of Chinese economic sanctions on Lithuanian products. However, as Lithuania’s economic relations with China are negligible, at least when compared to western European countries, Beijing made the unprecedented move of targeting EU-wide supply chains that contain Lithuanian products. This effectively escalated the bilateral disagreement to the EU level, with the bloc filing a WTO case against China.
Written by Simona Grano. According to China, Taiwan is a splinter province to be re-conducted under Beijing’s sphere of influence at all costs; likewise, China forbids international recognition of Taiwan under its “One China” principle. Through dealing with such hindrances for decades, the island has become skilled at swerving Chinese diplomatic aggression. Taiwan uses its soft – or “cat warrior” – diplomatic power to counter attacks on its sovereignty, promoting itself as a freedom-loving, peaceful nation in contrast to a belligerent China.
Written by Josie-Marie Perkuhn and Hung-yi Chien. Therefore, we call for a more comprehensive cross-perspective and interdisciplinary academic dialogue to encounter the current segregations and broaden the community by strengthening the interconnectivity. Although some topics, such as identity politics and the cross-strait tension, have caught particular attention in recent years, Taiwan studies still lack some ‘infrastructure’ that helps new students of Taiwan to grow upon it. With this sort of infrastructure, even if Taiwan lose its existence as an independent entity in the future, the shared discipline of sinology researching Taiwan, in particular, will last, and Sinitic knowledge will become the common heritage of human beings.
Written by Huynh Tam Sang. As the resurrection of great-power politics has tragically befallen smaller powers, Taiwan has enhanced its agency via embracing humanitarian diplomacy and has sought a meaningful role in the global arena by supporting like-minded countries. The lesson from Taiwan’s humanitarian diplomacy is that when democracy is exposed to challenges, middle powers should potentially play a responsible role by investing in diplomatic support and humanitarian aid to vulnerable people.
Written by Wen Lii. As Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) enters its primaries ahead of the November 2022 midterm elections, DPP candidates in the Matsu Islands face a different challenge: the party has never nominated candidates for local posts in Matsu. The county has long been considered a stronghold for the opposition Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). The DPP could potentially nominate ten or more candidates in Matsu at various levels of government, although nominations are yet to be finalised until May or June. The upcoming races will mark a historic first for the DPP’s participation in these local posts in Matsu. This will signal an unprecedented scale and scope for DPP campaign activities in Matsu, with the opportunity to further solidify grassroots support.
Written by Chieh-Chi Hsieh. Since Taiwan’s 2020 Presidential election, 14 recall elections have taken place. Yet, it would be hard to disagree that amongst the 14 recall ballots, merely five have managed to attract nationwide media coverage and broader public attention. These include the recall elections of former Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu, city councillors Wang Hao-yu (Taoyuan City), Huang Jie (Kaohsiung City), and legislators Chen Po-wei (Taichung City), Freddy Lim (Taipei City). So, what are the underlying political implications of these recall campaigns and their subsequent developments?
Written by Yu-Hua Chen. China’s relationship with the liberal international order (LIO) has evolved over the decades. China gradually transformed itself from an order opponent in the Mao era to an order beneficiary in the Deng era to an order reformer in the Hu era. China has mixed feelings toward the LIO built and led by the United States at the end of World War II. On the one hand, leaders in Beijing know that the LIO is the foundation of China’s power and wealth today. Without the United States engaging China by bringing it into this order, the rise of China would have been impossible.
Written by Yu-tzung Chang. Adam Enders, an Assistant Professor from University of Louisville, published a research paper in the Journal of Politics this year (2021). Comparing the degree of affective polarization between the political elite and the masses in the U.S., he found out that the political elites’ affective polarization is higher than the general public, and meanwhile the affective polarization is more diverge than ideology. The affective polarization of the Americans is becoming more and more revealing in current political environment.
Written by Ian Inkster. What may turn out to be the most distinguishing characteristic of the referendums is that none of them directly address the economic catastrophes rendered by the ongoing pandemic. In large capitalist nations elsewhere, especially in the West – not so visible in, say, Japan or anywhere east of the so-called Middle East – the debate on economic futures is primarily centred on anglophone and European concerns. The pandemic in most nations has accelerated debates and deepened the divides concerning employment, technological change, and social outcomes of government policies. In particular, the big question is back to the future: How can workers improve their conditions (from no-contract employment through to spasmodic multiple tasking) and how can or should policymaking contribute?
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. On Saturday, 18 December 2021, the Taiwanese people went to the polls to vote on four referendums supported by the opposition KMT and opposed by the ruling DPP of President Tsai Ing-wen. The result was a sound defeat of all four proposals and a significant win for the policies of President Tsai. Below is an analysis of what happened.
Written by Mark Wenyi Lai. On December 18th, the Taiwanese people voted for four national referendum questions. The vote was initially scheduled on August 28th but was postponed due to the pandemic prevention policy. The four questions were as follows:
Referendums and Their Relationship to Taiwan’s Politics Written by Chia-hung Tsai. Perhaps the biggest challenge for the DPP is the import of the US pork referendum. However, the KMT argues that the referendum targets every pork product containing ractopamine, which is used to enable animals to grow larger and leaner. This drug is currently legal in the US but banned in Taiwan. Many polls show that most people agree to ban meat containing ractopamine, partly because food safety is a salient issue in Taiwan, especially after the gutter oil incidents in 2014. The DPP seems to frame this referendum as the plebiscite on whether Taiwan would ally with China or US.