Written by Nicholas Welch. Approaching the January 2020 Taiwan elections, many Taiwanese and international spectators broadly feared PRC-based disinformation operations weakening Taiwan’s democratic institutions. In particular, many feared Russian-style “covert social influence via the use of bots and fake persona accounts,” which would sway public opinion en masse. Nevertheless, when the dust settled, it remained unclear whether the PRC propagated that form of disinformation at all. Before the election, and although no substantial evidence for such claims exists, the international community pre-emptively accused the PRC of spreading disinformation.
Written by Timothy S. Rich and Madelynn Einhorn. How does the Taiwanese public view COVID-19 policies and do these efforts boost evaluations of President Tsai Ing-wen? Taiwan received international acclaim for its aggressive response to the pandemic. Such policies included standard social distancing and mask mandates seen in most countries, with centrally coordinated quarantine and contract tracing policies, and fines of over $3000 US for violating quarantines. Due to these efforts, people in Taiwan are 3,400 times less likely to die from COVID-19 than people living in the U.S.
Written by Ernie Ko. On September 22, 2020, five Legislative Yuan (Taiwan parliament) members, including four current members and one ex-member, were formally indicted by the Taipei Prosecutors Office for bribery charges. This group of accomplices has been consistently receiving bribery for nine years from a local businessman in exchange for putting pressure on government officials to tilt the law in the businessman’s favour.
Written by Wei (Azim) Hung. Economic interdependence under rapid globalization has brought about unprecedented economic prosperity. However, it has to some degree failed to promote the establishment of mechanisms for inclusive regional cooperation in Asia. Globalization has not promoted the types of positive diffusion that has been anticipated, in the sense that growing cooperation on technical and economic issues have not been able to stimulate a much greater sense of solidarity around common values.
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 Joseph Bosco. Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s brave and calmly inspirational president recently addressed the rising military threat from Communist China. She noted that Beijing’s crackdown on Hong Kong now puts Taiwan “on the front lines of freedom and democracy.” Recognizing that what is at stake is not only Taiwan’s own political independence and security, but a major front in China’s existential challenge to the rules-based, Western values-oriented international order, Tsai pledged that Taiwan would carry its share of the democratic burden.
Written by Kharis Templeman. If Tsai Ing-wen is superstitious, she should be worried: second term presidents in Taiwan appear to be cursed. Much like President Tsai, her predecessor Ma Ying-jeou started his second term on a confident and triumphant note. But over the next four years, he faced a relentless series of political crises, including an intraparty power struggle with Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, massive protests against the death of a military conscript and construction of a nuclear power plant, and of course the Sunflower Movement occupation of the legislature, which effectively halted cross-Strait rapprochement with Beijing.
Written by Yu-tzung Chang. Many people have begun to worry that as with the Liberal Democratic Party in Japan, the DPP will hold power for a long time in the future, and Taiwan will become a dominant one-party system. There are three reasons why I think this is unlikely. First, although the national identification cleavage has waned, new controversies are continually emerging, including same-sex marriage, health insurance premiums, and environmental protection, making Taiwan a typical pluralistic society. Politicians must find ways to bring together various “minority views” and assemble a “majority force” to win elections.
Written by Jacques deLisle. Tsai Ing-wen begins her second and final term as Taiwan’s president buoyed by her adept handling of a pair of crises. But the skill, and luck, of Tsai and the Democratic Progressive Party-led government are likely to be tested on several fronts
Written by Mark Wenyi Lai. What will President Tsai Ing-wen do in her second term? To answer this question, this essay reviewed three previous Taiwanese Presidents’ second terms and attempted to assess how Tsai and Taiwan politics operate in 2020-2024. Tsai is the most formidable Taiwanese President of the last thirty years. Her unprecedented political clout contributes to seven explanations as to why this is the case.
Written by Chieh-chi Hsieh. On 6 June 2020, Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu suffered a devastating defeat in the recall election with almost 940,000 ballots agreeing to remove him from office after just 18 months since his inauguration. What are the underlying reasons for Han’s abrupt rise and fall over two years? What are the political implications of Han’s recall for not only the Kuomintang (KMT) but also the development of Taiwan’s democracy?
Written by Milo Hsieh. In January, Taiwan saw the re-election of its DPP President Tsai Ing-wen. The January election, which saw the DPP once more taking a firm majority in the Legislative Yuan, was a victory for the DPP that also gave rise to smaller parties. The KMT, taking lessons from its defeat, went on to reposition its policy on cross-strait issues with the election of a new party chairman.