Written by Kyoung M. Shin and Chan-Yuan Wong. As the initial shockwave ushered in by the COVID-19 pandemic is beginning to subsiding, it is imperative to start a more nuanced discussion about pertinent public policies. Even in countries such as Taiwan, who have thus far proven to be relatively more successful in stemming the tide, the government is still emphasising economic re-opening. It is often touted across the globe that Taiwan has been one of the more, if not the most, successful countries in combating COVID-19—and rightfully so. As of October 1, 2020, there has been a total of only 514 documented cases in Taiwan, most of which have been “imported.” While most countries around the world are still struggling to cope with the coronavirus, there has been no report of domestically contracted case in Taiwan since mid-April.
By Chan-Yuan Wong and Kyoung M. Shin. It is indisputable that Taiwan’s restrictive emergency policies have successfully brought the coronavirus under control and gave Taiwan the enviable status of a “virus-free haven.” Although one may argue that outcome should be used to measure “success” and “failure,” it is not the only criterion to evaluate public policies. Even from a purely economic efficiency point of view, how the outcome is achieved is equally important—that is, the measure of the associated costs and resource inputs. To effectively control the spread of the coronavirus, Taiwan has essentially taken a page out of its old “developmental state” playbook.
Written by John F. Copper. In January this year, Taiwan held a key national election. The Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) president, Tsai Ing-wen, won reelection while the DPP kept its majority in the national legislature. It was an across-the-board victory for the pro-independence party. Fast forward to autumn, nine months later. How does Taiwan look politically? Not much different! Reassessing campaign policies and reality-checking that usually follow a big election have been mostly missing.
Written by Frank Hsiao. The basic idea of his Cornell thesis was a two-sector model of economic growth: namely, the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors (instead of usual growth model of consumer good and investment good sectors).). Based on the idea of “primitive capital accumulation” by Karl Marx—whom LTH did not mention explicitly—he investigated, in the absence of foreign resources (foreign direct investment, loans and aid), whether the surplus-value in the agricultural sector could be exploited (transferred) as capital flow to the financial and foreign sectors, along with government taxes and levies, and also to the non-agricultural sector for industrial development.
Written by Frank Hsiao. Lee had an extensive collection of books, as his followers in Taiwan were proposing to build a library under his name to house his books. This made him quite different from other politicians. He read widely, had an excellent memory, could express his learning and thinking eloquently, and could write fluently. He was a very rare and talented scholar.
Written by Thung-Hong Lin. In March 2014, the Sunflower Movement, a student-led protest to oppose the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement (CSSTA), shocked the Taiwanese public. For 24 days (March 18–April 10, 2014), Taiwan’s legislature was paralysed by protesters occupying the chamber, nearby roads and surrounding alleys, which prevented their eviction by police. The protesters claimed that the CSSTA would favour large companies investing in China, damage local small and medium-scale enterprises’ (SMEs) business and have a devaluing effect on local labour’s wages.
Written by Chin-fen Chang. As an export-driven economy, Taiwanese manufacturing has suffered a sharp drop in demands overseas during the first half of this year. Local businesses in Taiwan have also been affected by a lack of foreign tourists. Moreover, Taiwanese have been self-restrained in their consumption, suffering from income loss or concerning worse financial conditions to come in the near future. Labour markets also show significant job losses along with cutting regular earnings for those fortunately still on the payroll.
Written by John F. Copper. Had the economic numbers not been in their favour, would they have lost the election? Hardly. The fact the U.S. supported President Tsai and her party was an overwhelming advantage, as was China alienating Taiwan’s voters with its harsh statements and actions, which were further exacerbated with anti-China protests in Hong Kong. Both were critical factors. Finally, the KMT was very divided with its top leaders fighting among themselves.
Written by Dr. Alan H. Yang and Tung Cheng-Chia. Great power competition between the United States and China has intensified under the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic. Whether in the World Health Organization or the United Nations, this intensification is compelling states to reorient their political alignment. Taiwan needs to reflect on and strategically reposition itself in this geopolitical tug-of-war. A top priority for the island-nation is to strengthen its links and influence in Asia.
Written by Yao-Hung Huang. On May 28th, 2020, China approved the controversial national security law for Hong Kong. It is expected that Beijing’s latest intervention could well be the last straw that prompts many of its residents to leave the special administration region, and this has arguably already began to occur.
Written by Harry West. The Coronavirus pandemic has presented the world with challenges the likes of which have rarely been seen before. COVID-19 — a disease for which a vaccine is yet to be found — has killed over 300,000 people and infected millions more. As well as the human cost, the virus has had a significant impact on the global economy, with governments across the world implementing social distancing measures as a means for combatting the spread.
Written by Min-Hua Chiang. Despite economic shrinkage, the impact of COVID-19 on Taiwan’s economy is restrained compared to other countries. Singapore (-2.2%), European Union (-2.7%), USA (-4.8%), China (-6.8%) and Hong Kong (-8.9%) have reported a more significant drop in the first quarter of 2020. Taiwan’s success in controlling the spread of COVID-19 has minimized the impact of COVID-19 on its economy. As of May 11 2020, Taiwan reported 440 cases and seven deaths, lower than most other countries in the world.