Written by John Burn. It was already clear from her recent speech to conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation in Washington DC that Liz Truss – the UK’s shortest-serving Prime Minister of all time – is trying to develop her image beyond the country’s shores. Being responsible for one of the most disastrous economic policy outlines in the UK’s history in her mini-budget upon coming to office, she lost public confidence and the confidence of the Conservative Party in very short order, resulting in her dismissal after 44 days in office.
Going for Low-Hanging Fruit, Deliberate Strategy, or Path Dependency?: Liz Truss’ Visit to Taiwan
Written by Brian Hioe. Former UK prime minister Liz Truss arrived in Taiwan on May 16th for a five-day visit. Truss’ main purpose in visiting was to give a speech at the invitation of the Prospect Foundation, a think tank close to the Tsai administration. In addition, Truss met with President Tsai Ing-wen, Vice President William Lai, and other high-ranking officials.
Truss Visits Taiwan: Worth or Trouble?
Written by Huynh Tam Sang and Phan Van Tim. Liz Truss’s journey is in the limelight as the first ex-British prime minister to set foot in Taiwan nearly thirty years after Margaret Thatcher’s visits in the 1990s. Nonetheless, the worth of Truss’s five-day sojourn is a contentious issue. From one perspective, Truss’s visit is deemed immensely significant, exemplifying the UK’s unwavering backing for Taiwan amidst escalating Chinese pressure, given her enduring advocacy for a democratic Taiwan. But, conversely, others argue that her visit merely inflamed the already high-strung tensions between China and Taiwan.
An Instagram comeback tour or a sincere bid to strengthen democracy in East Asia? Liz Truss’s Taiwan visit exposes growing Conservative Party tensions over China, but either way, Taiwan still wins.
Written by Max Dixon. Liz Truss, MP for South West Norfolk and British Prime Minister for 44 days, visited Taiwan last week, between May 16th and May 20th, meeting with senior officials, including William Lai, the frontrunner to replace current President Tsai Ing-wen, and giving a keynote speech to the Prospect Foundation that called for a more stringent British approach to China. Ostensibly the visit of a former Prime Minister has been heralded as a coup for Taipei in emboldening the position of Taiwan in the global imagination amidst growing Chinese assertiveness; indeed, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has welcomed Truss’ visit.
Europe’s Dream of Strategic Autonomy
Written by Gunter Schubert. Slowly, the dust settles after French President Emmanuel Macron’s remarkable performance during his state visit to China from April 5-7. However, it is a safe bet that his statements on the danger of the European Union (EU) being drawn into a war by the US because of Taiwan, a place of no interest to Europeans, will have long-lasting repercussions for the transatlantic relationship.
Graduation Trip: From Bland Bureaucrat to Madame Liberty
Written by Chieh-Ting Yeh. In 2011, a relatively unknown politician in Taiwan named Tsai Ing-wen became the presidential candidate for the Democratic Progressive Party, which was at the time the opposition. She was a capable bureaucrat that was most notable for her blandness; she had close to zero personal charisma to speak of.
Ironically, this was also her strength. The last DPP president, Chen Shui-bian, was seen by American policymakers as an unpredictable populist. He used his charisma to play to his base’s anti-China stance. As a result, when the US was trying to engage China, Chen and the DPP were seen as “troublemakers”, raising “tensions.”
Chinese Military Drills After Tsai-McCarthy Meeting Will Be Used for Political Ammo by Both Camps
Written by Brian Hioe. One of the striking effects of Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last August was to what extent it highlighted the perception gap within Taiwan as compared to outside Taiwan.
At the time, much international discourse acted as though the Pelosi visit could be a prelude to World War III. Drama ensued from the visit’s onset, with the flight that Pelosi took to Taiwan followed by over 700,000 users on flight tracking website FlightRadar24–setting new records. Op-eds in international media outlets such as the New York Times framed Pelosi’s visit as unnecessarily provoking China.
President Tsai Ing-wen’s successful travels, in spite of a Chinese headwind: Solidifying Central American and US relations
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. From late March through early April 2023, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen made her seventh foreign trip since becoming President in May 2016. The destinations were the Central American countries Guatemala and Belize, with stopovers in New York (on the way out) and Los Angeles (on the way back). The 10-day trip was her first foreign travel after Covid-19 made it sheer impossible to make such trips during the period 2020 – 2022. This trip became headline news because the CCP government in Beijing voiced major objections, particularly against a planned meeting with US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy in Los Angeles. The objections are a continuation of the protests by Beijing against the August 2022 visit to Taiwan by McCarthy’s Democratic predecessor, Nancy Pelosi.
Opportunities abound to ram up UK-Taiwan relations
Written by Huynh Tam Sang and Phan Van Tim. By and large, there are ample opportunities for the UK and Taiwan to deepen their relationship, given Taiwan’s geopolitical importance and rising prominence as a robust democracy and resilient economy. Moreover, should London genuinely devote its time and energy to pushing its “Indo-Pacific Tilt”, engaging with Taiwan would benefit London as it helps the great power establish a firm footprint in the area while demonstrating the country as a responsible stakeholder in the region.
US-Taiwan Relations in 2022 and 2023: The Good, the Bad, and It Could Get Ugly
Written by Jacques deLisle. Signals of US support for Taiwan were strikingly strong in 2022. Yet, despite the crucial role the US plays in Taiwan’s security, 2022 was also a year of jarring insecurity for Taiwan. Developments in 2023 are likely to be portentous for US-Taiwan relations and, in turn, Taiwan’s prospects more generally.
Taiwan’s Relationship with its Last Remaining African Ally – Eswatini
Written by Kristina Kironsk. Taiwan did not always have such a limited presence in Africa as it does now. Its official relations with the countries on the continent began in 1949, shortly after the Nationalists were driven out of China by the Communists during the Chinese Civil War. Altogether 30 African countries at one time or another maintained formal relations with Taiwan, but today the country is a politically marginalised actor with a minuscule presence mostly confined to the pursuit of economic interests.
The Abe Factor and the ‘Special’ bond between Taiwan and Japan
Written by Chieh-chi Hsieh. Abe has widely been regarded as ‘the Prime Minister who is most supportive of Taiwan’. Not only had he been an advocate for legitimatising Taiwan’s status on the international ground on many occasions, but he also made the renowned statement during a video conference with the Taiwan Institute for National Policy Studies in 2021 that ‘if something happens to Taiwan, it means something happens to Japan’. Hence, although the news of Abe’s assassination sent shockwaves worldwide, the political implications of his untimely death on the future trajectory of Taiwan-Japan warrant further investigation.