Written by Pin-Yi Li. In the postcolonial Asian context, national museums reflect the countries’ colonial histories and their transformation, offering the country’s incumbent political elites the opportunity to reinvent or adjust the initial museum discourses framed by the colonisers. For example, respectively built by the Japanese and British colonial governments, both the National Taiwan Museum and the National Museum of Singapore are the oldest public museums in each country.
Displaying Indigenous People’s “Heirlooms” in Museums? Lessons from the Heirloom Exhibition of Pingtung Indigenous Peoples Museum
Written by Drangadrang Kaljuvucing. “The Family Heirlooms of Slop-Dwelling Peoples” exhibition was the fruit of a competition to discover Indigenous heirlooms that still exist in Indigenous communities. It was the Pingtung Indigenous Peoples Museum (PIM) partnering with four other Indigenous museums in Pingtung County, including Wutai Pavilion, Sandimen Pavilion, Laiyi Pavilion, and Shizi Pavilion, to conduct exhibition collection, field surveys, and promotion as part of a project with the Ministry of Culture in Taiwan. The thirteen heirlooms for the exhibition, which included clothing, accessories, paintings, weaves, wood carvings, clay pots, and other living implements, originated from seven Indigenous towns in Pingtung County, except for Chunri Township. While the exhibited pieces were grouped into three categories: “Living Etiquette,” “Decorating Life,” and “Cultural Heritage,” the exhibition highlighted the diversity and uniqueness of the heirlooms revealed by their owners through interview processes.
Three Musketeers against Mis/disinformation: Assessing Citizen-led Fact-checking Practices in Taiwan
Written by Chiaoning Su and Wei-Ping Li. From sophisticated disinformation campaigns to patriotic trolling and clickbait, the flood of mis/disinformation has become a global phenomenon. Studies have shown that Taiwan’s young democracy ranks as one of the countries most exposed to misleading viewpoints or false information from foreign forces, especially China. These campaigns often seek to demonise high-profile Taiwanese politicians and divide Taiwanese society. They also aim to steer Taiwan away from anti-China policies or international alliances, notably with the United States.
Who are the Allies of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)? Neologisms, Netizens, and Nationalisms
Written by Hsin-I Sydney Yueh. Recently, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense rejected a Japanese news report suggesting a widespread tendency among retired Taiwanese military officials to “sell out” their country. Wu Sz-Huai, a retired lieutenant general and incumbent opposition KMT party legislator, was among those who denounced this allegation.
“Are we Chinese spies (共諜)?” Wu angrily asked this rhetorical question during a session of the National Defense Committee at Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan on March 2, 2023. While Wu denied being a Chinese spy, Taiwanese netizens teased him by sharing a photo of Wu and other retired Taiwanese military officials attending a CCP-hosted event, where they had sat attentively and listened respectfully to China’s leader Xi Jinping in 2016. Wu’s use of the term “Chinese spies” reminds us of another similar expression in Mandarin Chinese: “allies of the CCP” (中共同路人). This expression has recently gone viral in Taiwan’s online communities, used for self-mockery and as an attacking label.
“Governing by Memes”: COVID-19, Conspiracy, and Digital Democracy in Taiwan
Written by Wen Liu and Hsin-I Sydney Yueh. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly rearranged our social relations and affective connections. Amid disinformation and virus-origin conspiracy theories circulating across the social landscape, governmental responses to the pandemic have included various public health measures, such as lockdowns and mask mandates, and political measures, such as escalating geopolitical conflicts between the United States and China. Around the world, fear has been one of the most prominent affective responses to the pandemic, as driven by disinformation practices, intensified geopolitics, and our raw psychic fear about the unknown.
Freedom Fighting: Taiwan’s Resistance against China’s Ethnonationalism
Written by Hsin-I Cheng. In the past decade, the world has heard the resisting voices of dissidents across Asia. From the 2014 Sunflower Movement to the Occupied Central Movement in Hong Kong later in the same year, citizens peacefully held their governments accountable. Since then, we have witnessed mass protests for freedom and transparency in nations. These challenges against authoritarianism generated transnational synergy, as demonstrated in the “#Milk Tea Alliance.” This movement started in 2020 when young Thai netizens fought cyberattacks against two Thai celebrities who expressed support for Taiwan and Hong Kong’s autonomy. Shockingly, two years later, the world witnessed Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine—it is a less militarily powerful neighbouring nation. Against these backdrops, we launched the book: Resistance in the Era of Nationalisms: Performing Identities in Taiwan and Hong Kong.
History was Reconfigured at the Time of Discovery: The Life and Afterlife of Chiang Wei-Shui
Written by Fang-Long Shih. The life and afterlife of Chiang Wei-Shui (蔣渭水 1891–1931) have echoed what the film Rashomon has denoted: “History was not found at the time of its occurrence, but was reconfigured at the time of discovery” (dir. Akira Kurosawa 1950). In 1921, Chiang Wei-Shui founded Taiwan Cultural Association (TCA, 台灣文化協會), the first culture-based organisation in Taiwan’s history. The TCA was established “to promote Taiwan to a position of freedom, equality and civilisation”. The TCA also had a political aim to “adopt a stance of national self-determination, enacting the enlightenment of the Islanders, and seeking legal extension of civil rights”.
Why Does Taiwan’s Development in the Past Century Matter?
Written by Peter C.Y. Chow. By the end of the 20th century, most former colonies had become independent though few qualify as modern states. Taiwan is an exceptional case in modern development history. Although still a Japanese colony until WWII, Taiwan became a modernised country with remarkable achievements in socio-political and economic developments by the end of the 20th century. Its unique development trajectory is worthy of in-depth analysis such that other developing countries can share its experience in the struggle for modernisation.
For the UK, Taiwan Could Provide an Alternative to Confucius Institutes
Written by Adrienne Wu and Marshall Reid. For the United Kingdom, 2022 was a year of significant change, particularly in its approach to the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Following years of relatively cordial UK-PRC relations, London followed the example of many other European states by shifting to a far more sceptical, confrontational policy toward Beijing. While this transformation was the product of various factors—from growing concerns regarding China’s human rights abuses to rising awareness of the PRC’s coercive economic policies—it was heavily influenced by domestic political manoeuvring. Nowhere was this more evident than in the competition between Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak to succeed Boris Johnson as prime minister, in which both candidates sought to frame themselves as the most tough-on-China. In a move emblematic of this game of China-sceptic one-upmanship, Sunak made the bold claim that he would close all of the UK’s remaining Confucius Institutes, the PRC’s international Mandarin language learning centres.
Chu Yun-han: Influential Political Scientist, Promoter of Taiwan Studies and Sinology in Europe
Written by Dafydd Fell and Robert Ash. It was with the greatest sadness that we heard of the passing of the influential Taiwanese political scientist Chu Yun-han. He died at home on 5 February 2023 – just two days after his 67th birthday. His loss is irreparable: through his own academic research and his tireless efforts as Executive Director of the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, he exerted an enormous influence on East Asian Studies throughout Europe, as well as in many other parts of the world.
“Kind and Gentle Soul”（「謙謙君子，溫潤如玉」）: Remembering My Dear Friend Yun-han Chu (1956-2023)
Written by Tse-min Lin. The news came as a total shock. I had arrived in Taiwan just five days earlier to visit the new Taipei School of Economics and Political Science that Yun-han had helped establish. I knew he was ill and had been hoping to visit him after being unable to do so for five years. That is never going to happen now. Yun-han was a dear friend for 40 years. His passing is a heart-breaking personal loss.
Chu Yun-han (67), An Eminent Scholar and President of Taiwan’s CCK Foundation, Died on February 5th, 2023
Written by Gunter Schubert. It was a spring day in 2007 when I entered the commercial building at Tun Hua North Road, where the headquarters of the Chiang Ching Kuo Foundation (CCKF) were located on one of the upper floors. I came to meet Chu Yun-han in his capacity as CCKF president and introduce to him my idea to establish a Taiwan research centre at the University of Tübingen. I had prepared a detailed presentation and pondered every detail that could jeopardise my proposal’s consistency.