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.”
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 Bonny Ling. Taiwan continues to be dogged by cases of extrajudicial killing, violating the fundamental human right to life, liberty, and security of person. A recent prominent case is the killing of a young Vietnamese migrant worker, Nguyen Quoc Phi, in August 2017 by a novice police officer in Hsinchu. The killing of Nguyen, immortalised in the two Taiwanese documentaries of the same name “Nine Shots” by Su Che-hsien and Tsai Tsung-lung, was marked by police brutality. The title is a reference to the number of bullets fired by the police officer in mere 12 seconds, killing an unarmed and unclothed Nguyen.
Written by Brian Hioe. A visit by an 89-member diplomatic delegation from the Czech Republic to Taiwan came to an end on Friday night, three weeks ago, with members of the delegation departing Taiwan. Among the delegation were Czech Senate president Milos Vystrcil and Prague mayor Zdenek Hrib. The delegation arrived on Sunday, staying a total of six days. All members of the delegation tested negative for COVID-19 before they were allowed into Taiwan, with the legislature and other areas visited by the Czech delegation disinfected after their visit, and members of the delegation kept within a “diplomatic bubble” to prevent the spread of COVID 19.
Written by Elizabeth Freund Larus. US President Donald Trump on March 26 signed into law the TAIPEI Act, strengthening US commitment to protecting Taiwan’s international standing. Passed earlier by both house of Congress with unanimous consent, the law is a response to China’s increasing pressure to shrink the island nation’s diplomatic space. The Act encourages countries to support Taiwan’s diplomatic recognition or to strengthen unofficial ties with the island, and to support Taiwan’s participation in international organisations. What form would these measures take, and what is the likelihood of their implementation?
Written by Abby Huang. Since COVID-19 began spreading across Europe in February, the name “Taiwan” leapt on to the mastheads of major news organizations. One after another, international press published reports on Taiwan’s disease prevention measures and compared them with those of their own countries.
Written by Ming-yeh T. Rawnsley. When the International Journal of Taiwan Studies (IJTS) 3.1 published a topical section on ‘Taiwan, Public Diplomacy, and the World Health Assembly (WHA)’ in February/March 2020, we could hardly have participated that the world would soon be managing an epidemiological crisis on a scale not seen since the threat of Spanish Flu in 1918.
Written by John F. Copper. The United States has long (since World War II) played a critical role in Taiwan’s politics, including its elections. The reason is apparent: in 1950 President Truman sent the 7th Fleet into the Taiwan Strait to block Mao’s plan to invade the island; he saved Taiwan. America has served as Taiwan’s guardian ever since. Today China’s military could “liberate” Taiwan and make it part of China probably in a few hours if the US declined to intervene.
Written by Ratih Kabinawa. Taiwan’s presidential election is just around the corner and the entire world is watching this highly contested democratic event that will determine not only Taiwan’s domestic politics but also foreign affairs direction. While the presidential debates mainly covered the future of cross-Strait relations with Beijing, little attention is given to Taiwan’s relations with countries in Southeast Asia. How will the result of the presidential election affect Taiwan’s engagement with Southeast Asian countries?
Written by Selcuk Colakoglu. After ceasing all diplomatic relations in 1971, Ankara and Taipei needed to re-establish their relations in the late 1980s to address both countries’ rising economic potentials. This period saw many Western countries severing their relations with Beijing over Tiananmen Square in 1989, and Ankara’s relationship with Beijing become strained in the early 1990s due to the Xinjiang Uyghur issue.
Written by Pascal Abb. While its shrinking international space is a major problem for Taiwan, the resulting need for unofficial diplomacy has arguably been a boon for its think tank sector. Through their track-II-activities, experts render essential services to the government and can in turn achieve a tight integration in the policymaking process.