Saturday, April 28, 2018

Q&A on Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific Concept

How does Taiwan fit into the free and open Indo-Pacific? 

Donald Trump and Shinzo Abe are not the only leaders talking about a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has also been using the phrase, signaling her government’s interest in the nascent concept. To understand Taiwan’s potential role in (and reservations about) FOIP, The Diplomat spoke with J. Michael Cole, editor in chief of Taiwan Sentinel as well as a Taipei-based Senior Fellow with the China Policy Institute/Taiwan Studies Programme at the University of Nottingham, UK and associate researcher with the French Centre for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC). 

Since late last year, Tsai Ing-wen has taken to using the phrase “free and open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP) (most recently in April remarks before a delegation from the American Enterprise Institute). Should we take this to mean that Taiwan is explicitly aligning its regional strategy with the Trump administration’s? 

Since the beginning of her administration, President Tsai has been consistent in her government’s support for global standards such as UNCLOS. She, like other leaders, has also adopted the “Indo-Pacific” designation, first used by the Australian government around 2013, that describes a concept rather than an actual, fixed region. The notion of FOIP therefore isn’t anything particularly new, or even a direct product of President Trump’s regional strategy. It’s a longstanding concept, and as a country that seeks to abide by international norms and which seeks to play a constructive role as a responsible stakeholder, it is only natural that Taiwan would express support for FOIP. 

Continues here.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Unprecedented Violence, Possible China Link As Anti-Pension Reform Protesters Storm Taiwan’s Legislature

Physical assaults on members of the press and law-enforcement officials, and the presence of a protest leader at an event in Beijing in 2016, have given a very bad reputation to a movement that opposes the Tsai administration’s efforts to reform an unsustainable pension program 

Protests against pension reform took a particularly violent turn on Wednesday as groups physically assaulted journalists and law enforcement officials around the Legislative Yuan in Taipei. An estimated 2,000 people took part in the protest, organized by the 800 Heroes, a veterans group that has spearheaded efforts to oppose long-needed reforms to the pension program for civil servants, members of the armed forces and law enforcement. 

Continues here.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Conservative’s Bid for Referendum on Same-Sex Marriage, Sex Education Highlights Democratic Blindspot in Taiwan

Amending the Referendum Act may have been a mistake in a highly politicized environment like Taiwan, where polarization is severe and civil society feels super-empowered. Fringe and intolerant groups now have a tool to hijack policymaking in a way that is detrimental to this nation’s democracy  

Taiwan’s Central Election Commission (CEC) on April 17 passed a review of two referendums proposed by Christian-led conservative groups seeking to constrain marriage equality and prevent same-sex education in elementary and junior high schools nationwide. 

This is the latest bid by the Happiness of the Next Generation Alliance, a conservative group that has spearheaded a campaign against marriage equality in Taiwan. At its core, the alliance opposes revising the Civil Code to permit same-sex marriage, but says it supports a special law to protect the rights of same-sex couples seeking to form a union. For their part, LGBTQ groups and their supporters argue that a separate law for same-sex unions would discriminate against gay individuals. 

Continues here.

Friday, April 20, 2018

For Taiwanese, Democracy is the Only Game in Town — And They Would Fight to Defend it

A new survey shows that nearly 70 percent of Taiwanese would take action to defend their democratic way of life if China attacked their country, even as a majority of them are pessimistic about the state of their democracy. We look at the numbers, and respond to critics from the blue camp  

A recent survey by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD), a government-sponsored NGO, revealed that nearly 70 percent of Taiwanese would be willing to fight to defend their nation’s democratic way of life if China attempted to annex it by force. In the survey, conducted on behalf of TFD by National Chengchi University’s Elections Study Center, 67.7 percent of respondents said they were willing to defend Taiwan against Chinese aggression. Among people aged 20 to 39, that number rose to 70.3 percent. Willingness to fight dropped to 55 percent if military action resulted from a declaration of de jure independence by Taiwan. 

Continues here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

China’s Live-Fire Drill in the Taiwan Strait: A Case Study in Psychological Warfare

Despite claims by Chinese hawks that the live-fire military exercise is aimed at Taiwan and that the aircraft carrier ‘Liaoning’ could be involved, there is every indication that the drills are little more than a routine artillery exercise 

The Chinese military will hold live-fire exercises in the Taiwan Strait today (Wednesday) as President Tsai Ing-wen is on her first state visit to Africa. The announced maneuvers have sparked a frenzy of reporting — and hyperbole — in international media, which as always are on the lookout for high drama. 

Chinese authorities have revealed very little about the nature of the exercise since the announcement. A statement by the Fujian maritime safety administration only indicated that the maneuvers are to commence at 8am and end at midnight. The drills will take place in waters off Quanzhou, Fujian Province, across from Taiwan. 

Continues here.