Written by Tian He and Michael Magcamit. Taiwan is becoming increasingly isolated in the regional economy. The virtual signing of the RCEP on 15 November 2020 was a milestone for Asia’s regional economic integration. Although it is debatable whether the RCEP is a Chinese-led initiative, China is undoubtedly a significant player capable of shaping regional economic rules. Taiwan was excluded from this major trade deal despite being a technology powerhouse and an important trading nation that has spurred Asia’s integration with the world economy in the post-war period. Taiwan’s main regional economic competitor, South Korea, is far ahead of Taiwan regarding regional integration. It is believed that South Korea has free trade agreements (FTAs) with around three-quarters of regional economies. Under these circumstances, the CPTPP can be an opportunity for the Tsai administration to overcome its diplomatic isolation and revive the economy through deepening regional economic integration. Accordingly, Tsai has stressed the importance of the trade pact, stating that joining the CPTPP would strengthen Taiwan’s key strategic and economic position by further integrating the island-state with the rest of the world.
Written by Chun-Yi Lee. When it comes to combating pandemics, the public’s trust is crucial to the government’s response. The experience of COVID-19 demonstrates how well a government led its citizens through the pandemic depends on how citizens trust and comply with government regulations. As a result, COVID-19 has challenged not only health management but also governance issues more generally. As Fukuyama indicated, the Covid-19 pandemic was like ‘a bright light shone on existing institutions everywhere’ – the way a government and society reacted to the pandemic exposed the strengths and/or inadequacies within the existing institutions.
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 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 Chieh-Chi Hsieh. In brief, the two ballots may be conveying a down-spiralling trajectory of KMT’s popularity and supporting rate. Yet, by observing the DPP government’s actions in the respective campaigns of Lin and Lim, one can explain the diverging results of the elections. Moreover, with pan-Green media (e.g. political talk shows broadcasted on 3 Set News, Formosa TV network) continuing to focus on Lu’s actions and connections with Yen after the by-election, it makes apparent that pan-Green groups have already begun their preparations for the 2022 local elections later this year.
Written by Milo Hsieh. On December 18th, Taiwanese voters headed to the polls to vote on four key referendum topics. They rejected all four referendum proposals in a close but decisive vote. The votes were held on four topics, each of which were put forth by an opponent to a policy change pushed by the Tsai administration. Voters were asked explicitly whether they support: 1) Restarting Taiwan’s defunct fourth nuclear power plant, 2) Rejecting imports of U.S. pork containing Ractopamine, 3) Tying referendums to future national elections or leaving them as separate votes, 4) Rejecting the ongoing construction of a light natural gas ship dock in Taoyuan.
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.