Written by Ratih Kabinawa. Since Tsai Ing-wen won power in 2016, Taiwan has experienced increased international isolation. Beijing stepped up its offensive policy toward Taiwan by blocking Taipei’s participation in international forums, for example, in the WHA, WHO, and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). The PRC also exercised its dollar diplomacy to push Taiwan’s remaining diplomatic allies to switch recognition from Taiwan to China. As a result, during Tsai’s first term (2016-2020), Taiwan lost its major diplomatic allies, leaving the country with only thirteen diplomatic allies. Consequently, the Taiwanese government has looked to overseas communities to enhance its image and visibility, including Taiwan alumni associations. The Tsai administration has given these overseas communities a significant role under Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy (NSP).
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 Kristina Kironska. Taiwan is considered one of the most progressive countries in Asia but has no asylum law. Although debates on the issue occasionally occurred for more than ten years, there has been no progress on the draft asylum law since its second reading in 2016. One significant point of contention is to what extent an asylum law should address not only people from “uncontroversial” foreign countries, such as the Rohingya in Bangladesh, but also people from China, Hong Kong, and Macau. As with any issue that touches on cross-strait relations, the situation is complicated: on the one hand, the government celebrates Taiwan’s status as a beacon of human rights; on the other, extending asylum to PRC citizens risks stoking tensions with Beijing.
Written by Yi-Yu Lai. While the COVID-19 has stopped many individuals from travelling and interacting over the last two years, some cultural exchanges that we never expected to see have emerged during the pandemic. For example, on February 18th, 2022, people in Dongyin, an insular township in Taiwan’s Matsu Islands, had their first online workshop with those from Yonaguni, an island that belongs to Okinawa. Both islands are considered frontiers in their respective countries, and they had many comparable fates throughout history. Therefore, such a cultural exchange between the islands was particularly impressive because it was an activity with the islands as the focal point.
Written by Kai-Yang Huang. In 2019, President Tsai Ing-wen signed the National Language Development Act and announced its implementation. For a long time, pragmatism has had a significant impact on Taiwan. People believe that by promoting the use of English to become a “bilingual country,” Taiwan will be able to keep up with the rest of the world. Little do they know that what distinguishes Taiwan in the international community is the very distinctiveness of Taiwanese cultures. As a result, the primary principle of promoting natural language as a national language is to re-inherit a local worldview that has been around for a long time. This will strengthen the worldwide competitiveness of Taiwanese college students.
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 Tammy Yu-Ting Hsieh. It was not until 1949 that the concept of “Matsu” was first established. Before the civil war in China, this group of islands were mostly the seasonal resting stops of fishermen from the south-east shore of China. Residents on the archipelago can clearly see the outline of Fujian, whereas “Taiwan” was an island they hardly knew nor had any relationship with. But suddenly, in 1949, Kuomintang armies arrived at Matsu Islands, and in no time, Matsu became the frontline of the Republic of China, aiming cannons at the opposite bank, a place they used to call “home.” To put it romantically, serendipity is how the “Taiwan-Penghu-Kinmen-Matsu Community” came to be today. And I tend to think that serendipity also guided me, a descendant of Minnan and Hakka from Taoyuan City, to embark on this back-and-forth journey to Matsu since 2020.
Written by Judy Lee. I very well understand why he considers Taiwan a promising base for the initiative—a general acceptance of Hong Kong and Hong Kongers as an individual entity in its own right, favourable geographical location for necessary shipments and visits, highly-educated Traditional Chinese users ready to provide assistance…; but most importantly, just as in my own case, it is the generosity and amicability that Taiwan people offer that encourages continuous work and cooperation towards a more comprehensive narrative for the Greater China area.
Written by Gerrit van Der Wees. strength, it laid out the advantages of improving relations with Taiwan in the EU parliament and national legislatures. The Tsai Ing-wen administration had also emphasised time and again that Taiwan as a democracy was on the front line of the global fight against authoritarianism. If the West did not support Taiwan sufficiently, what happened in Xinjiang and HK could also occur in Taiwan one day.
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 Michael A. Turton. Of course, ethnic chauvinism is not the only reason for the two recalls but given how rightist politicians spearheaded the recalls, it obviously played a role. Chen and Lim’s energetic, intelligent, self-aware Taiwaneseness was obviously provoking for a colonial elite whose ideological heart contains a powerful streak of racism and ethnic chauvinism directed at other ethnicities in Taiwan. Hopefully, discussions of Taiwan politics will shed more light on this key shaper of KMT attitudes toward Taiwan, and Taiwanese attitudes toward the KMT, especially among the young.
Written by K. Thiruchelvam. Our earlier article described how governments in Malaysia and Taiwan have responded to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic on their health systems. We identified common themes from both countries’ responses to the pandemic and acknowledged the importance of public sector capacities and capabilities in shaping and steering them. This second part of the article will describe how governments in Malaysia and Taiwan have responded to the challenges of the pandemic in their economic sector.