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AsiaGlobal Voices

Trending Opinions From Across the Region

AsiaGlobal Voices is a curated feed of summaries of opinion articles, columns and editorials published in local languages in media from across Asia.

The publication of AsiaGlobal Voices summaries does not indicate any endorsement by the Asia Global Institute or AsiaGlobal Online of the opinions expressed in them.
Taiwan is Not Hong Kong: We Must Deepen International Cooperation
Monday, June 1, 2020
Taiwan is Not Hong Kong: We Must Deepen International Cooperation

Hung Chi-chang, chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation (2007-08), in China Times (May 28, 2020)

(Photo credit: Yenyu Chen/Pixabay)

Taiwan is Not Hong Kong: We Must Deepen International Cooperation

China’s National People's Congress (NPC) declared that it will pass a national security law for Hong Kong. Beijing ’s tough handling of the Hong Kong issue can be understood this way:

First, Beijing’s priority is to maintain internal political, economic and social stability, as well as manage competition and cooperation between major powers and regional issues. Hong Kong's internal stability is linked to the internal stability of the country.

Second, Hong Kong is an important economic lifeline for China and for Chinese officials as it remains an offshore center and a renminbi-denominated bond-issuance hub and supports international fundraising for development of the Greater Bay Area.

Third, last year’s protests fueled support for the pro-democracy camp’s victory in the Hong Kong district council election. If the pan-democrats dominate the Legislative Council elections this year, it could generate a wave of support among the democratic forces within China and prompt further action by Beijing.

Fourth, while Beijing is well aware that its tough handling of Hong Kong will generate international criticism, they see Hong Kong as a domestic issue. Unlike with other geopolitical issues such as the South China Sea or the Taiwan Strait, with Hong Kong, international pressure is significantly less.

Taiwan is not Hong Kong. Taiwan’s foreign minister has warned that Beijing might soon use force against Taiwan. Taiwan cannot be so naïve as to expect the international community to provide unconditional support. To defend Taiwan’s way of life, Taiwan must continue to deepen cooperation with those in the international community that share our values. To protect Taiwan’s autonomy, Taiwan must continue to play a key role in regional security and the global industrial supply chain.


Hong Kong’s “One Country, Two Systems” is Dead
Monday, May 25, 2020
Hong Kong’s “One Country, Two Systems” is Dead

Hu Wenhui, political commentator, in his 胡, 怎麼說 (What Do You Say) column in Liberty Times (May 22, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: FreedomFungPhotography / Shutterstock.com)

Hong Kong’s “One Country, Two Systems” is Dead

President Tsai Ing-wen emphasized in her re-election speech on May 20 that she resolutely rejects Beijing’s "one country, two systems" proposal. Yet, the next day, while the pan-Blue opposition coalition were still criticizing President Tsai for not showing any goodwill to the mainland, the Chinese National People's Congress of announced plans to introduce a national security law in Hong Kong.

In terms of impact, the national security law covers serious crimes such as subverting state power, splitting the country, interfering with foreign forces, and terrorist activities, which could involve imprisoning and strictly controlling the freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and procession. Under such a law, the people of Hong Kong could be easily be convicted of any crime. If they threaten the regime of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), they risk being charged and detained by the authorities. The official introduction of law will mark the moment when the freedom of the Hong Kong people and “one country, two systems” die.

“One country, two systems” has been a mask for the leadership of Hong Kong. When society does not obey orders, the CCP has been shown to throw off this mask, revealing their true face of brutality. The CCP and the Hong Kong government have recently used the excuse of the Covid-19 epidemic measures to suppress the Hong Kong people’s objections to this law. While control measures were expected to have expired, they were suddenly extended to June 4, with all assemblies and processions banned. Nevertheless, the population has already gathered to protest against Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

President Tsai was correct to reject firmly the proposal of “one country, two systems”. Furthermore, judging from the brutality of Beijing’s national security law in Hong Kong, the pan-Blue coalition are simply boneless worms led by the CCP.


Has the Handling of Covid-19 Really Been a Success?
Friday, May 15, 2020
Has the Handling of Covid-19 Really Been a Success?

Liou Pei-pai, former director of the Taiwan Animal Health Research Institute, in China Times (May 11, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Office of the President, Taiwan)

Has the Handling of Covid-19 Really Been a Success?

President Tsai Ing-wen and Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung, supported by media aligned with the ruling coalition, like to boast about Taiwan’s Covid-19 achievements. The government has sought recognition from overseas and even engaged in activities such as face-mask diplomacy, which has garnered thanks from foreign dignitaries.

The reality, however, is that in the early stage of the epidemic Taiwan civilians successfully controlled the epidemic through rapid compliance and the wearing of masks. Major tasks such as the analysis of the virus, antibody screening, testing and vaccine development have not been given significant attention. 

The crisis in Taiwan has nearly subsided, with no domestic cases appearing for 29 days. Taiwan must now focus on its post-epidemic prevention work. While the government claims to have an overall plan for the development of vaccines, new drugs, and faster testing, they have forced academic institutions and private pharmaceutical companies to pursue the fight alone, without government funding.

As a result, no concrete achievements have been made in Taiwan, while research in these fields has yielded results in many countries around the world. Reviewing the situation objectively, Taiwan's epidemic prevention work has fallen behind. Taiwan must urgently think about what should be done to handle another wave of the epidemic.


A Meaningless War of Words
Monday, May 11, 2020
A Meaningless War of Words

Chao Chun-shan, Emeritus Professor at the Graduate Institute of China Studies of Tamkang University, in United Daily News (April 14, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: D Woldu/ITU)

A Meaningless War of Words

During a press conference on April 8, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), accused Taiwan’s government of spearheading personal and racist attacks against him over the past three months. This accusation triggered a war of words between the WHO and Taipei.

There indeed is evidence of some Taiwan netizens criticizing Tedros for what they view is his "pro-China" stance, while using indecent and racist language. Attributing the actions of certain individuals online to the entire population of Taiwan or to the government is unreasonable. It is therefore extreme to assert that Taiwan is "racist". As an immigrant society, Taiwan is known for preserving the warm, harmonious and inclusive aspects of Chinese culture. Taiwan is also renowned for its welcoming people.

Dr Tedros may be unaware of Taiwan ’s historical relations with African nations. As early as the 1960s, Taiwan provided aid to Africa, sending to the continent a large number of medical, farming and engineering teams. Yet many African nations subsequently recognized mainland China, forcing Taiwan off the United Nations.

The Chinese government claims that Taiwan is exploiting the Covid-19 pandemic to accelerate independence. These assertions are nothing more than further moves to oppose Taiwan ’s participation in the WHO. Taiwan is currently battling against the epidemic while simultaneously facing a political war of words. The coronavirus jeopardizes individuals, while political viruses endanger national security.


Even After the Epidemic, Wear Masks – and Stay Away from Wild Animals
Wednesday, May 6, 2020
Even After the Epidemic, Wear Masks – and Stay Away from Wild Animals

Wang Jen-hsien, Honorary Managing Director, Taiwan Counter Contagious Diseases Society (中华民国防疫学会), in China Times (May 3, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Mori/Office of the President, Taiwan)

Even After the Epidemic, Wear Masks – and Stay Away from Wild Animals

The Covid-19 epidemic is almost over in Taiwan. Providing the Central Epidemic Command Centre (CECC) does not make any major mistakes, people should be able to resume normal work and activities within the month. Even after the epidemic, however, a new way of life must be developed to eliminate the threat of the virus returning entirely.

The successful defeat of the Covid-19 virus in Taiwan is a direct result of society’s efforts rather than the policies of the CECC. By adhering to the hygiene and symptom-management etiquette outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO), the public health was maintained.

This should continue. Masks should be placed at the center of daily life while the rest of the world battles the virus. Whether you have any symptoms or are simply visiting crowded areas or confined spaces such as public transport or elevators, everyone must take the initiative to wear masks.

Masks are also important because they are an alternative means to maintaining social-distancing practices. Keeping physically apart is just one aspect of a robust public-health policy, which includes vaccinations and wearing masks. As people resume normal interaction, it will be difficult to maintain social distance, so other ways to protect each other and ourselves such as wearing masks will be important.

Emerging infectious diseases can arise come from cross-animal transmission without mutations, as in the cases of AIDS and Ebola. It is, therefore, important to maintain our distance from wild animals including rodents and bats. Besides avoiding slaughtering wild animals, the development and construction of urban areas must take into account the habitats of wild animals so as not to avoid the transmission of infectious diseases to humans.

Only by continuing to wear masks and social distancing with wild animals can Taiwan become a leading example in the field of public health.


Be Realistic About Participation in the World Health Organization
Tuesday, May 5, 2020
Be Realistic About Participation in the World Health Organization

Chiang Huang-chih, Professor of International Law, National Taiwan University (NTU), in Liberty Times (May 4, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Eric Bridiers/United States Mission Geneva)

Be Realistic About Participation in the World Health Organization

Taiwan first started to call for it to participate in World Health Organization (WHO) activities in 1995. This year, there appears to be great deal of optimism that this goal might be achieved. At the end of December 2019, Taiwan appealed to the WHO secretariat to pay attention to cases of unknown pneumonia in China. Subsequently, Taiwan demonstrated an outstanding ability to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. This has helped boost Taiwan’s reputation, with the United States and Japan strongly supporting Taiwan’s participation as an observer in the WHO.

Despite the optimism, the public should manage their expectations. First, the epidemic in Europe has not been completely controlled. As a result, the World Health Assembly (WHA), the governing forum of the WHO, will be held online this year, with the pandemic the focus of discussions. The possibility that Taiwan’s role will be discussed is unlikely. As such, Taiwan’s participation is by no means guaranteed.

Second, the countries that support Taiwan’s participation in WHO activities only express their support for Taiwan as an observer. Previously, such participation has been based on the "1992 Consensus” and as such, would ultimately be determined by China. It is also important to note that there are many types of observers. As Taiwan experienced by having an observer seat from 2009 to 2016, this approach can actually be harmful to Taiwan ’s international status.

If possible, it is necessary to seek further joint proposals from the United States and Japan to allow Taiwan to participate in the voting on resolutions in the Assembly. The benefit of a democratic society is that it is possible to congregate and gather ideas. People seem to be too optimistic about participation in this year’s WHA. For now, it is best to remain both cautious and patient.


Change the Name of China Airlines
Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Change the Name of China Airlines

Fu An-tang, senior aviation industry executive, in Liberty Times (April 27, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Michel Teiten)

Change the Name of China Airlines

Taiwan’s China Airlines recently delivered Covid-19 medical supplies to Europe. This story prompted some confusion among the international media which incorrectly reported that China rather than Taiwan made the donation. This error has prompted a heated discussion over whether the airline should change its name to “Taiwan Airlines”.

Practically speaking, changing the name would be a huge, time-consuming, labor-intensive and costly project. Not only would it require changes to the centralized reservation system and transportation supply networks, but it would also require a lengthy rebranding process. Furthermore, changing the name would likely result in the airline facing a ban from flying to mainland destinations. Nevertheless, the decision must still be carefully considered.

One feasible solution could be to change the name of Mandarin Airlines, a subsidiary of the China Airlines Group. As China Airlines holds nearly 94 percent of the shares of Mandarin Airlines, the decision would be practical. In addition, only a small number of mainland destinations are served by this subsidiary. Even if they were banned by the mainland, it would have minimal impact on the China Airlines Group.

Potential steps could be as follows: Mandarin applies to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and other international bodies to change its name to “Taiwan Airlines”. The fleet is rebranded, and Taiwan Airlines begins to negotiations with countries around the world to serve existing air routes. China Airlines could gradually transfer more of its fleet to the renamed carrier. If some countries should refuse to accept the new entity due to pressure from Beijing, China Airlines could continue to serve those routes.


In Fight Against Covid-19, Public and Private Sectors Need to Work Together
Wednesday, April 15, 2020
In Fight Against Covid-19, Public and Private Sectors Need to Work Together

Chow Hsing-yi, Professor, Department of Finance, College of Commerce, National Chengchi University, in United Daily News (April 11, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Alix Lee)

In Fight Against Covid-19, Public and Private Sectors Need to Work Together

Taiwan's epidemic situation remains significantly better than the rest of the world, with only over 300 infections and fewer than 10 deaths, despite being geographically close to mainland China. We should thank the government and medical personnel at all levels for their efforts. Otherwise, we might have been caught in a difficult quagmire as Europe and the United States have been. Taiwan must appreciate its situation and strive to maintain it.

While the international media praises Taiwan, we risk becoming complacent. There were already signs of this over the recent Qingming holiday (April 4) with the media reporting a spike in vacations to Kenting. This highlights the fundamental contradiction in the fight against the virus: On the one hand, it is necessary to maintain social distance; on the other, it is necessary to keep up economic activity. China, too, is eager to resume work. Yet this risks the resurgence of the epidemic. In the US, President Trump's reluctance to declare a state of emergency may have made the virus harder to control there.

As Taiwan is an export-oriented economy, the world’s problems arising from the virus will inevitably become ours. When we face the economic crisis, it will be impossible to rely on the government alone. We must rely on some form of public-private partnership to overcome difficulties together and prepare for the recovery. The business community should quickly respond to workplace conditions and assist the government in recommending the direction and focus of relief policies, formulating strategies and practices to reduce the impact on employees.

Taiwan ’s performance has attracted worldwide attention. As long as the public and private sectors work together, we can provide key assistance when the world needs Taiwan. At the same time, doing so will benefit Taiwan economically.


The WHO is heartless to Taiwan, but we'll never be heartless to the world!
Friday, April 10, 2020
The WHO is heartless to Taiwan, but we'll never be heartless to the world!

Hu Wenhui, political commentator, in his 胡,怎麼說 (What Do You Say) column in Liberty Times (April 6, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Office of the President, Taiwan/Makoto Lin)

The WHO is heartless to Taiwan, but we'll never be heartless to the world!

The world has become a battlefield against the Wuhan Virus (Covid-19). There have been 1.3 million confirmed cases worldwide and nearly 70,000 deaths. These figures are still climbing.

The whole world can see that Taiwan’s performance in the crisis has been excellent. Even though the virus will not show mercy to any person or any country, the strength of each government's epidemic controls can be compared. These are not things that can be denied by the opposition, nor can they be distorted or rejected by slanders from China.

The government's anti-epidemic team was on alert early. As a result, Taiwan has controlled the first wave of virus outbreaks from China as well as the second wave from Europe and the United States. So far, these controls have been well maintained. Taiwan, however, should not be complacent, especially after receiving compliments from international media and other governments.

In addition, the epidemic situation in neighboring Asian countries continues to rise rapidly. Taiwan is therefore still in a crisis surrounded by danger. Complacency will only expose us to the virus. Nevertheless, Taiwan must also hold on to love and empathy for all of humanity and share its knowledge and experience in controlling the epidemic with the international community as much as possible.

Even though the World Health Organization (WHO) is both useless and incompetent, Taiwan should not fail in participating in global efforts to battle the virus. While the WHO is under Chinese manipulation and consequently heartless to Taiwan, Taiwan will not be heartless to the world. Therefore, Taiwan ’s recent donation of 10 million masks and other epidemic prevention materials should be just the beginning. We must continue trying our best to help countries so that the international community knows that Taiwan's helping hand is there.


The Pandemic Does Not Respect Borders – Time to Bar Visitors
Tuesday, April 7, 2020
The Pandemic Does Not Respect Borders – Time to Bar Visitors

Lu San, current affairs columnist and researcher in law and politics, in United Daily News (March 17, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Victor Freitas from Pexels)

The Pandemic Does Not Respect Borders – Time to Bar Visitors

Taiwan successfully controlled the first wave of Covid-19. A second wave of cases imported from Europe, the United States and other places has seen a surge in recent days. During the first wave, the mainland Chinese government’s approach in controlling the virus successfully reduced the number of people infected in Taiwan.

However, as the virus has started to spread rapidly throughout Europe, the US and other parts of the world, the Taiwan government should apply the approaches used in the first wave to control the virus. We should not only request people from some other countries to self isolate but also consider whether to adopt the measures used in India, Vietnam and New Zealand. These countries have stopped issuing visas to some countries. If Taiwan were to follow suit, we will be able to minimize the chances of the virus coming into Taiwan. We should also stop people from the mainland coming to Taiwan as group tourists.

While this approach would be extreme, it would actually more practical and effective than other tactics. As the spread of Covid-19 in Europe and the US has not been effectively controlled so far, it is difficult for Taiwan citizens to know whether sufficient measures are being taken. While some may not support such action on humanitarian or legal grounds, it is important to recognize that other countries are already taking such precautions.

Considering the seriousness of the virus, we should not waste time worrying about whether such an approach would be legal. Above all else, we must ensure the virus does not enter Taiwan.


The Pace of US-China Decoupling is Accelerating
Tuesday, February 25, 2020
The Pace of US-China Decoupling is Accelerating

Alexander Huang Chieh-cheng, Associate Professor, Graduate Institute of International Affairs And Strategic Studies, Tamkang University, and Chairman, Council on Strategic & Wargaming Studies, in United Daily News (February 20, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: US Department of Defense/Army Sgt Amber I Smith)

The Pace of US-China Decoupling is Accelerating

After the end of the Cold War, the US and China pursued a "constructive strategic partnership", where Beijing was expected to become a "responsible stakeholder" in the international system. Following more than a decade of the US pivot to Asia, however, the pace of US-China decoupling has started to accelerate. Many are now wondering whether a "new Cold War" between Beijing and Washington has begun.

On February 8, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a speech on the strategic competition between US and China. He outlined the Trump administration’s hardline stance on China. Pompeo mentioned Taiwan six times, the most significant public recognition of Taipei by a high-level US official since 1971.

In addition to Taiwan, the US has made the military, geopolitics, trade, technology, currency, and supply chains all diplomatic battlegrounds with China. There are now restrictions on Chinese admissions to US universities, academic exchanges, visas and employment in scientific laboratories.

Combined with the rapid spread of the Covid-19 virus, which is weakening bilateral economic cooperation and restricting the free movement of people, these moves are accelerating the pace of US-China decoupling. With Taiwan caught in the middle, cross-strait relations are likely to become more treacherous.

Improvements in mainland-Taiwan ties during the previous Kuomintang government were a result of mutual understanding between the decision makers on both sides. Beijing's policy towards Taipei has shifted from "anti-Taiwan independence" to "promoting reunification”. Yet it would be a big strategic mistake to take a stern rather than benevolent approach to cross-strait relations. It is important to stress that what Taiwan despises is one-party Communist rule and not their mainland compatriots. While the Covid-19 virus is wreaking havoc across China, Taiwan should not decouple from their compassion and sympathy for Chinese citizens.


Highest Vote in History: Why Tsai Ing-wen Got 8.17 million Votes
Tuesday, January 14, 2020
Highest Vote in History: Why Tsai Ing-wen Got 8.17 million Votes

Summary by Dana Liu

Highest Vote in History: Why Tsai Ing-wen Got 8.17 million Votes

After an unpopular start, how did Tsai Ing-wen win the presidential election? First, the destabilizing shift in US-China relations over trade disputes brought into focus Taiwan’s own relationship with China. Second, Xi Jinping’s speech on January 2, 2019, laid out an unsettling vision of unification as the future direction of Taiwan, deepening anxieties over Taiwan’s sovereignty and freedom. Third, escalating demonstrations in Hong Kong served as a “window” for Taiwan to imagine its future under “one country, two systems”. The further escalation of campaign rivalries between the two paths of unification vs independence also stimulated tense generational conflicts within Taiwan.

China’s crucial role was to help Tsai win the younger generation’s support and trust. Generational conflicts that existed in the passage of the gay marriage law deepened as student protests in Hong Kong fueled a stronger Taiwanese rejection of the “one country, two systems” policy. Wu Yi-rou, former student association representative at National Taiwan University, says young people liken China’s “Taiwan solution” unification policy to a frog slowly cooked in warm water before being swallowed. For them, it is easy to see what their future might be like in the situation Hong Kong: a younger generation protesting the consequences of a handover decided 30 years earlier without considering the ramifications of that decision.

The Green party has played anxiety over national sovereignty to its advantage: Christians who opposed gay marriage in 2018 supported Tsai’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in 2020 in view of the China threat. The Australian spy scandal in November spread further distrust. Perhaps Taiwan is entering a new war of generational conflict, ending the traditional blue and green divide. Tsai has a great opportunity to reject and replace the “one country, two systems” policy, but what the impact would be on the future of China-Taiwan relations remains unknown.