Written by Sam Robbins. Collaboration within Taiwan or transnationally has never been perfect. Like all g0v projects, international exchange is permanently a work in progress, and much more can be achieved by “rough consensus” than by looking for a particular shared interest. The boundaries of this inchoate transnational activist community are still being drawn, and the meaning of collaboration based on cultural and political similarities is still up for debate. For example, the 2020 Meet and Hack made explicit references to the “Milk Tea Alliance” in the posters on display, and I overheard many mentioning the concept.
Written by Timothy S. Rich, Madelynn Einhorn, and Isabel Eliassen. Taiwan’s efforts at gender parity for electoral offices have resulted in a legislature where women currently hold 41.6% of seats. This leaves Taiwan ranked 12th globally, with only one Asian country (Timor-Leste) with similar rates. However, despite the success of President Tsai Ing-wen, the vast majority of executive offices (mayors and magistrates) are still held by men. Gender equality and the rise of women in national politics are common narratives when discussing Taiwanese politics.
Written by Elizabeth Frost. Much of Taiwan’s impresive progress towards gender equality is thanks to the Taiwanese island’s women’s movement. Two groups that have been instrumental in the post-martial law era Taiwanese women’s movement are Awakening and the Homemakers United Foundation (HUF). The early stages of both groups were similar – Awakening began as a magazine in 1982, and HUF was initially established as the women’s auxiliary of the New Environment magazine in 1987. After the lifting of martial law, the groups were incorporated into independent foundations – Awakening in 1987 and HUF in 1989. Awakening is one of the most influential feminist groups in Taiwan, and HUF is now one of Taiwan’s largest environmental NGOs.
Written by Ashley Deng-Yu Chen. During my interview sessions and participant-observation activities in Southern Taiwan, many findings struck me, even as a “local anthropologist”. Firstly, most of my interlocutors who had lived through the authoritarian decades under the KMT almost unanimously claimed that the current form of “democracy” and “liberal society” was not any better than the “social order” that was safeguarded by the rigid martial law order. Moreover, with the KMT losing the last general election in 2016 to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), many supporters subsequently believed that Taiwan had since sunk into a dark ditch of “political correctness” with obsessions of LGBTQ+ rights and naive revolutionist values.
Written by Brian Hioe. It is not out of the question that such young people will eventually take the reins of power. Indeed, they will once older politicians depart the political scene. But all appearances to the contrary, this may be a premature assessment. It may not be, in fact, that young people have come of age in Taiwanese politics, and instead of that, they remain subject to the larger established forces that have remained dominant for decades in politics. Whether this changes is to be seen.
Written by Chris Chih-Hua Tseng. Taipei has spawned some policy innovations. Meanwhile, in Taoyuan, an adjacent developing city that has built massive amounts of social housing, none of the above happened. Instead, the city government proudly announced it had built social housing the fastest. Why has social housing developped much more sluggishly in the capital than it has in Taoyuan? To answer the differences between these two cities, we need to expand our scope to broader urban politics and urban developmental processes.
Written by Sam Robbins. The notion that emotions can inspire political action is not new. Research into social movements contains many examples of the motivating power of passion, anger, and disgust… What is seemingly much less common is the active cultivation of positive emotions, such as happiness or fun, in such social movements. If you’re feeling content about your situation, what need is there to engage in collective action or civil engagement?
Written by Rose Adams. At only 20 years since its first democratic transfer of power, Taiwan’s democracy is shockingly well developed. With a voter turnout of 74.9% in 2020’s national election and a female President, Taiwan has achieved democratic feats that even the United States has yet to realize with 200-plus years of democratic experience. One of the more impressive of these records is Taiwan’s current percentage of women in government: a whopping 38% of legislative seats, one of the highest of any democracy. Compare that 38% to Japan and Korea, two of Taiwan’s neighbours who have similar electoral systems. At 10% and 17 %, respectively, of Japan and Korea’s legislature seats filled by women, Taiwan’s success is miraculous.
Written By Brian Hioe. The depiction of politicians as animals thus comes full circle. Whereas such depictions were previously used as a way to mock pan-Blue politicians, embracing such images is now seen as a strategy of pan-Green politicians aiming not only to connect with young people but also to engage in playful self-mockery.
Written by Erik Mobrand. Assessments of the state of corruption in Taiwan show wildly diverging conclusions. Corruption scandals break out regularly, seeming to keep the island in a series of emergencies. At the same time, global surveys laud Taiwanese authorities for successfully fighting corruption. If Taiwan is so clean, why do corruption scandals happen? Or, if corruption scandals are so regular, how can Taiwan be assessed as an anti-corruption success story?
Written by Michael Johnston. Taiwan’s reputation for good government has vastly improved over the past generation and more. Its scores on the Transparency International’s well-known Corruption Perception Index have improved from a low score of 49.8 in 1996 to 58 in 2010 and 65 in 2019. The more sophisticated World Bank Institute’s World Governance Indicators include an index of Corruption Control. There too, Taiwan had risen from a score of +0.58 in 1996 to +1.03 in 2018.
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.