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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.
Pandemic Showcases Systemic Gender Inequality
Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Pandemic Showcases Systemic Gender Inequality

Namira Samir, doctoral student at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in The Jakarta Post (December 15, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Alexandra Koch/Pixabay)

Pandemic Showcases Systemic Gender Inequality

The Covid-19 pandemic has required almost all events to go virtual. Information about conferences and seminars has been disseminated through digital posters containing the speakers’ photographs. One cannot close one’s eyes to the male favoritism in Indonesia’s institutions. It is a rarity to find an event with an equal number of men and women. Even those that do include women put them into gender-dictated roles such as chairperson. 

Why is this the case?

Indonesia may have fewer problems than other countries with equal pay between genders, but the problem we have is no less systemic than the wage issue. Women need to receive the same acknowledgement for their leadership capacity and their understanding of issues within their field. Both men and women have important things to say, and by putting on a blindfold regarding this matter, we allow the perpetration of gender inequality.

Systemic gender inequality requires the attention of everyone – both men and women, regardless of their occupations or backgrounds. How can one claim that progress has been made when male favoritism in leadership has not been addressed? In promoting women in leadership, developing countries mainly appreciate empowerment in terms of their ability to run their own small and medium-sized enterprises. That matters. 

But gender inequality also persists in the formal sector – a sector that upholds the highest standards of giving decent wages and protections to its workers but does not actually have a clear vision when it comes to gender inequality in leadership. 

As much as it is the responsibility of policymakers, it is also our duty – that of individuals, men or women – to make a difference, wherever we dedicate our time and knowledge. If each of us passes on the acknowledgement of gender inequality in leadership to our friends, families and colleagues, a revolution will come.


The Imperfect Vaccine Solution
Friday, December 11, 2020
The Imperfect Vaccine Solution

Hong Gi-bin, political economist, in Kyunghyang Shinmun (December 5, 2020)

Summary by Soomi Hong (Photo credit: Cheong Wa Dae, The Republic of Korea)

The Imperfect Vaccine Solution

The year 2020 will be remembered first for the pandemic and second for the widespread distrust and dissatisfaction with governments. The virus has been powerful at physical destruction but also at shattering social unity and paralyzing the global economy. In less than a year since the Covid-19 outbreak, so-called developed countries have broken down on so many levels, and too many lives have been lost in the process. 

The UK government has approved a vaccine for distribution to British citizens. Other developed countries will be approving and releasing other versions. But none of the current vaccines have fully completed comprehensive tests on possible side effects, and while some argue that this was necessary to speed up the rollouts, this course of action is no different than that of heavily criticized Russia and China that already started using their own versions of imperfect vaccines on their population. 

Understandably, pharmaceutical companies are requesting a blanket exemption from liability for any potential side effects from widespread vaccination. The rush, the irresponsibility of governments and manufacturers, and the potential disastrous side effects have increased the possibility that many will refuse to be inoculated with any vaccine. South Korea has already seen a rise in vaccine resistance following the unexpectedly high death toll from seasonal flu shots. According to a Pew Research Center poll in September, 51 percent of Americans would refuse vaccination. 

Vaccines may be the key to save us from Covid-19, but the strategy that governments are pursuing may make this rescue impossible. 


Start Planning for the Great Indian Vaccine Challenge
Thursday, December 10, 2020
Start Planning for the Great Indian Vaccine Challenge

Chetan Bhagat, author, in his The Underage Optimist column in The Times of India (December 6, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes

Start Planning for the Great Indian Vaccine Challenge

Covid-19 vaccination will be a mammoth exercise, and preparation for this needs to begin now. For India, the magnitude of the task at hand is huge. Having a two-dose vaccine (such as the Moderna version) implies that 2.6 billion doses will need to be given across India. We are talking tens of thousands of trucks (with cold storage facilities) making millions of journeys across the nation around the clock. It also means having healthcare workers vaccinating Indians in every town and city.

This exercise, if not done smoothly, could turn into chaos – something that happens in India often. Instead, we want to show the world that when it comes to the crunch, India knows how to come together.

If we do our preparations right and set our priorities right, we can start in January 2021 and vaccinate a major part of the population by May 2021. We could, therefore, eliminate Covid-19 and be back to normal in terms of economic activity by June next year. If we do not plan or execute properly, we could lose another six to 12 months of economic activity, not to mention a lot more lives.

India can do this if we all work together. Sure, despite all plans, there will be hiccups, as expected in any massive exercise like this. However, we have to remain as one through it all. Non-partisan, non-argumentative, non-left or right. We just need to put our heads down and do the work until all of us are vaccinated. Executing this well will make Indians safe and bring our economy back. Let’s join hands and extend our arms to get the jab we have been waiting for.


Geostrategic Values to Woo Biden
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Geostrategic Values to Woo Biden

Kavi Chongkittavorn, journalist, in Bangkok Post (December 8, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Ron Przysucha/US Department of State)

Geostrategic Values to Woo Biden

The new US administration’s perception of Thailand's geostrategic values in the wake of China's rise and the Covid-19 pandemic will determine whether the US's oldest friend in Asia will be a boon or a bane.

First, Thailand has to bring back that image of a rules-based democratic country that respects human rights. If the Biden administration hosts a Summit of Global Democracy next year, Thailand must be included in the list of participants as part of the emerging liberal democracies group.

Second, Thailand is one of the five US allies in the Indo-Pacific region.

Third, Thailand is an important trading partner of the US.

Fourth, Thailand is considered a major regional hub of multinational civil society, especially those with headquarters in the US and Europe.

Fifth, local human rights defenders are fearless when it comes to defending civil rights.

Sixth, of late, the proliferation of social media and bloggers have allowed for the expression of views once considered taboo. Today, all Thai media content providers, which are still lacking in professionalism, report in a way never before seen.

Seventh, Thailand is a good friend of China. Therefore, Thailand can serve as a bridge-builder for the two superpowers, as we have no qualms about being an American ally while being close to China.

Eighth, in the era of the pandemic, Thailand is a great partner for health security. Thanks to more than three decades of US assistance in capacity building and research on contagious diseases, Thailand has developed a world-class healthcare system and capable human resources which have helped mitigate the horrible virus.

All in all, these Thai eight strategic values should help the Biden administration set a clear pathway to deal with Thailand.


Covid-19: Nobody is safe until everyone is safe
Tuesday, December 8, 2020
Covid-19: Nobody is safe until everyone is safe

Takemi Keizo, member of the House of Councillors of Japan and World Health Organization (WHO) Goodwill Ambassador for universal health coverage, and Achim Steiner, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme, in The Japan Times (December 4, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Prachatai)

Covid-19: Nobody is safe until everyone is safe

Covid-19 has devastated communities, systems and economies. For much of the world, and especially vulnerable populations, these past 12 months have been filled with insecurity and hardship. Driven by the common goal of ending the worst pandemic in a century, there has been unprecedented collaboration between scientists to develop effective vaccines and treatments.

Widespread cooperation around multilateral efforts such as COVAX, the initiative to drive equitable access to successful vaccines, illustrates that many acknowledge the need for solidarity in building a coordinated, global response. Some countries such as Japan have already taken significant steps toward preparing the national systems necessary to provide free vaccinations to all, prioritizing the needs of the vulnerable and underserved. Many low- and middle-income countries, however, where Covid-19 has caused even further strain on health systems, do not have the capacity to act similarly.

A synchronized international effort is needed. The UN secretary-general recently noted that ending the global pandemic will require sustained investment in health systems and a renewed commitment to universal health coverage, calling on countries to guarantee that health care technologies are accessible and affordable to all who need them.

Weak health systems can hinder a pandemic response. Technological advancements are crucial to curbing the spread of Covid-19, but they are not a silver bullet. Health, development and human security will be at great risk if communities do not have timely access to both innovations and strong health systems capable of delivering them equitably. Universal health coverage is crucial for addressing inequality. Investing in stronger health systems and accelerating progress toward universal health coverage through domestic efforts and global cooperation will bridge the gap between the rich and the poor, as well as lead to smoother and more equitable distribution of health technologies, while helping to protect everyone through the pandemic and beyond.


Disrupted Lives Behind Bars
Tuesday, December 8, 2020
Disrupted Lives Behind Bars

Ambika Satkunanathan, lawyer, human rights advocate and member of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, in Daily Mirror (December 8, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Thomas Timlen)

Disrupted Lives Behind Bars

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka conducted the first national study on the treatment and conditions of prisoners from February 2018 to January 2020. The findings are very relevant in light of the prisoner unrest and violence that have recently taken place in prisons in the context of the spread of Covid-19. 

Prisons are overcrowded to 107 percent of capacity. The study found that prisoners live in severely overcrowded accommodation and even take turns to sleep at night, or sleep in the toilet due to the lack of space. Prison buildings are outdated and dilapidated with crumbling structures and leaking roofs, which pose a constant risk to prisoners’ lives. These structures are highly susceptible to natural disasters, and there are no disaster management protocols in place to deal with emergency situations.

Due to the level of overcrowding, sanitation facilities and water supplies are inadequate to meet the needs of prisoners. At night prisoners are locked in their cells and do not have access to washrooms. Prisoners have to use plastic bags or buckets to relieve themselves and multiple prisoners in a single cell have to use the same bucket. Due to poor hygiene and sanitation, a large number of pests, such as rats and mosquitoes can be a found in prisons. The state of prison healthcare is far below the expected standard of care. Prison hospitals do not receive specialized medicine and equipment. Healthcare is far below the expected standard of care. 

Persons from disadvantaged backgrounds are further marginalized by the justice system. Rather than prevention of crime, the prison system pushes persons into a cycle of poverty and marginalization. We need to reimagine the prison system to ensure a safer society. 


In Times of Crisis, the Youth are Left Behind
Friday, December 4, 2020
In Times of Crisis, the Youth are Left Behind

Fatemeh Halabisaz, entrepreneur and researcher, and Vincent Jerald Ramos, postgraduate student in public policy at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, Germany, in Rappler (November 30, 2020) 

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: International Labour Organization)

In Times of Crisis, the Youth are Left Behind

In calamities such as the pandemic, the youth are left behind, adversely affected in terms of employment opportunities, education and training, and mental health and wellbeing. Public policies ought to be targeted to help them. 

The youth unemployment rate has increased from 12.9 percent in April 2019 to a record-breaking high of 31.6 percent in April 2020. Aside from the immediate disruptions to learning caused by Covid-19, there is also learning inequality. Students from more disadvantaged households find it difficult to continue their education since most of the financial burden from online distance learning falls on the student. An internet subscription is too high a cost for many Filipino households. Add to this the fact that the average internet speed in the Philippines is among the slowest in the region.

Another impact of the pandemic on the youth is a more challenging school-to-work transition. Economic crises tend to cause mass unemployment and create an unhealthy job market, especially for new graduates. Many youths are having to cope with stress and anxiety, which is exacerbated by the pandemic. There are many other confounding effects on the wellbeing of youth such as loneliness, isolation, loss of motivation, and unfortunately for some, possibly even violence and abuse at home. 

The government has both the mandate and the ability to pay closer attention to the youth in its post-crisis economic recovery plans, keeping in mind that they are disproportionately affected during recessions. A combination of passive and active labor market interventions may provide immediate relief to the most vulnerable youth and give them the means to enter the job market. An unemployment insurance program could also be an appropriate long-term labor-market policy response.


Water Scarcity is the Biggest Problem
Wednesday, December 2, 2020
Water Scarcity is the Biggest Problem

Huma Yusuf, writer, in Dawn (November 30, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: DFID)

Water Scarcity is the Biggest Problem

Arguably Pakistan’s biggest problem is water scarcity. The country faces acute water scarcity by 2025 and will be the most water-stressed country in South Asia within two decades. Almost 30 million Pakistanis have no access to clean water. One would think that the best way to spur discourse on water scarcity would be to focus on basic human rights: the right to access clean water, food and maintain hygiene. 

Another approach could be to emphasize that Pakistan’s water crisis is in fact a failure in water management, an example of our governments’ and bureaucracy’s inability to deliver basic services. Studies argue that Pakistan’s water scarcity can be addressed through data gathering, improved efficiency, reduced losses and improved sowing. More and better-coordinated government initiatives and subsidies, such as the drip irrigation scheme in Punjab, are needed. The 2018 National Water Policy needs a revamp, and aggressive implementation.

But the water management argument has not caught the public imagination. The national debate on malnourishment, which affects one-third of Pakistani children, also fails to make the link with water scarcity. Malnourishment is highest in Pakistan’s irrigated districts, where agriculturalists prioritize growing cash crops for export over domestic food security.

If Pakistan is to rally around the need to address water scarcity, it needs a new narrative. Water needs to be reframed not just as a citizen’s basic right but also as a political priority, central to our prosperity. Fisherfolk are campaigning for the Indus River to be granted personhood and associated rights. Many see the idea as too radical. But it indicates the desperation of those most affected by water scarcity. It might be just the new narrative we need to talk about our most pressing problem.


Lessons From the Japanese Economy
Monday, November 23, 2020
Lessons From the Japanese Economy

Lee Kang-kook, Professor at the College of Economics of Ritsumeikan University in Japan, in SisaIN (November 21, 2020)

Summary by Soomi Hong (Photo credit: Richard Schneider)

Lessons From the Japanese Economy

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), developed economies are expected to record on average a 14.4 percent fiscal deficit and a 20.2 percent surge in public debt. Few doubt the importance of expansionary fiscal policy but the big question mark lingers over the sustainability of high government debt. 

One country stands out in any analysis of government debt. In Japan, public debt began growing significantly in the 1990s because of numerous public-works projects and then through the 2000s with spending relating to the country’s aging society. In 2019, it reached 238 percent of GDP. During all this time, tax revenue continued to decline due to economic recession. Many refer to this time as the “lost decades” as the government was unable to take control of the economy and wage stagnation triggered deflation. 

This negative trend was finally reversed by the policies of Shinzo Abe, who recently stepped down as prime minister. From 2013, the nominal economy started to grow and tax revenue started to increase. This was not accompanied by any significant increase in public spending. An increase in the value-added tax (VAT) led to a positive balance. The interest rate on a 10-year government bond has fallen to near zero and the government has recently been buying back its bonds and now hold about 48 percent of national debt.

The Japanese experience shows the importance of maintaining a growth rate above the interest rate by making use of expansionary fiscal policy and monetary policy. Those who worry about high public debt now may see Japan today as an example and overcome any fear of taking on too much.


How Will the President Provide the People with a Vaccine?
Thursday, November 19, 2020
How Will the President Provide the People with a Vaccine?

Antonio T Carpio, retired associate justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, in his Crosscurrents column in Philippine Daily Inquirer (November 19, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Jeon Han/Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Republic of Korea)

How Will the President Provide the People with a Vaccine?

President Rodrigo Duterte has criticized pharmaceutical companies in Western countries for asking advance payment for their Covid-19 vaccines. The president complained: “There is still no vaccine, there is nothing with finality, and you want us to make a reservation by depositing money; you must be crazy.” The president also stated that “the procurement law of the Philippines does not allow you to buy something which is non-existent or to-be-produced as yet.”

The president vowed to prioritize buying Covid-19 vaccines from China and Russia because of their “generosity” in not demanding advance payment. “If the vaccines of Russia and China are equally good and effective just like any other vaccine invented by any country, I will buy first,” he declared.

The president is sadly mistaken in his pronouncements. First, Philippine law expressly authorizes the president to approve advance payment in any amount for the purchase of goods, particularly in case of calamities like a pandemic. Second, China and Russia will prioritize their own citizens since their state-owned companies are developing their vaccines.

The US and EU member states will have priority in the distribution of any successful vaccine since they have invested in the research, development, and manufacture of the vaccine. The US and the EU have calculated that gaining six to 12 months’ head start in deploying any successful vaccine will be worth the risk considering the damage the lockdowns and work suspensions have inflicted on their economies.

The president now realizes that the West, China, and Russia will prioritize their own citizens in the distribution of vaccines and that Filipinos may be among the last in the long queue. So how will President Duterte provide the Filipino people with a vaccine?


Why Invoking the “Ruling Right” Will Not Work in a Cover-Up
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Why Invoking the “Ruling Right” Will Not Work in a Cover-Up

Chang Young-soo, Professor of Constitutional Law at Korea University, in Munhwa Ilbo (November 13, 2020)

Summary by Soomi Hong (Photo credit: IAEA Imagebank)

Why Invoking the “Ruling Right” Will Not Work in a Cover-Up

Although the terrible nuclear incident at Fukushima, Japan, turned public opinion strongly against nuclear power, there was also criticism against throwing out years of research and investment to perfect the technology.

The real turning point, however, came with the release of an audit report on early retirement of Wolseong Nuclear Power Plant I, which found that the economic forecast for the power plant were set too low and that some unfavorable documents had been discarded. These findings cast doubt on the quality of due diligence leading up to the early retirement of the plant and on the integrity of the government.

What has been worse was the administration’s reaction to these findings. Some members of the president’s party accused the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office of being “politically motivated” and labeled the decision regarding the plant’s early retirement to be the “ruling right” of the president. It truly is surprising coming from a party that strongly criticized its predecessor for overstepping its power.

In reality, the executive invokes right to rule only in exceptional cases where due to a critical political situation, legal matters are sidelined in the policy decision-making process. Historically, this right has been executed rarely and with great caution, mostly in national crises involving urgent diplomatic issues. The issue of the power plant is not that grave. Furthermore, citing the ruling right in no way serves as a barrier that fends off investigation. Citizens are left to wonder what the political party is hiding behind its outrageous logic. In any case, once the truth is revealed, those responsible will be held accountable.


Exploring Ways to Cooperate with ASEAN in the fight against Covid-19
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Exploring Ways to Cooperate with ASEAN in the fight against Covid-19

Peng Nian, Deputy Director and Associate Fellow at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, in Global Times (November 14, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: ASEAN Secretariat)

Exploring Ways to Cooperate with ASEAN in the fight against Covid-19

Even during the pandemic, China’s commitment to strengthening economic and trade cooperation with ASEAN countries remains strong. In the first half of 2020, ASEAN surpassed the EU to become China's largest trading partner. This boom reflects not only the huge potential of economic cooperation between the two sides but also the strong foundation of mutual cooperation maintained through the pandemic despite shrinking global market demand and increasing protectionism. Nevertheless, the United States still seeks to disrupt China-ASEAN cooperation. China should address the following issues to reduce the impact of such interference.

First, due to Covid-19, ASEAN countries have experienced a decline in economic growth and reduced market demand. China should seek to meet the needs of ASEAN countries while recognizing the needs created by the epidemic, especially through cooperation in the digital economy. China should also promote the establishment of a regional China-ASEAN public-health cooperation mechanism based on the joint fight against Covid-19 and use this as an opportunity to implement the "Health Silk Road" initiative.

Second, to strengthen the foundations of cooperation, both sides should jointly resolve problems, especially those created by the pandemic. While China should continue to encourage domestic companies to invest in ASEAN countries, they should also fulfill their social responsibilities and ensure that investment supports the development of the local economy and society.

Third, China and ASEAN should avoid maritime crises through regular dialogue and collectively oppose any forms of foreign interference. Since the outbreak of the Covid-19, the US has attempted to turn ASEAN countries against China by stirring up the South China Sea issue. China and ASEAN should accelerate the negotiation of the code of conduct in the area and steadily carry out pragmatic maritime cooperation. This will create a peaceful environment for China-ASEAN to deepen economic cooperation and trade.


May Diwali Bring Hope This Vile Year
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
May Diwali Bring Hope This Vile Year

Tavleen Singh, columnist, in The Indian Express (November 15, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Khokarahman)

May Diwali Bring Hope This Vile Year

This has been a vile year not just for India but for the whole world. Except perhaps for our old foe China from whence came the worst pandemic in more than a century. As someone who thinks of China as an evil country, it galls me that it seems somehow to be doing just fine. So we must hope that on this Diwali festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil, the gods hear our prayers and help us to banish Chinese soldiers from our territory. May the gods punish China by doing as much harm to its economy as has been done to ours and to the economies of some of the richest countries in the world.

Having got my bile against China off my chest, I feel good. Since it is Diwali, I am going to try to talk about things that may help us all get into a festive mood. What has cheered me up in these long months of lockdowns was the announcement of the New Education Policy. It will be a long while before Indian children in government schools get access to an education and not just literacy, but this policy is a step in the right direction. It is my hope that it will be the first step towards decolonizing a public education system that was created by our colonial masters. It should have been decolonized years ago and, if it happens now, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be remembered in history for this.

Now it is time for Modi to concentrate on reviving the economy. His economic failures, that began with demonetization, should reduce any satisfaction he gets from his political successes. When I light the diyas this evening, I shall pray that we will not need masks this time next year.


RCEP is in Southeast Asia’s Interests
Monday, November 16, 2020
RCEP is in Southeast Asia’s Interests

Chu Kar Kin, Hong Kong commentator, in Oriental Daily (November 13, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory

RCEP is in Southeast Asia’s Interests

The members of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – 10 ASEAN member countries, as well as South Korea, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand – will reach a free trade agreement. Together, they account for about a third of the world’s total population and 30 percent of global GDP. Southeast Asian countries, including Malaysia, all have great development potential. In terms of economic and trade cooperation, they have many years of experience in dealing with each other.

The RCEP members will sign advanced free trade agreements on goods, services and investment and trade, involving economic and technological cooperation, Fields such as intellectual property rights are becoming more important for countries to reboot their economies, stabilize employment, and stimulate domestic demand. China is also an important export market for Malaysia’s produce such as palm oil, rubber and fruit. Through the RCEP, the two countries can deepen cooperation and trade. 

As such, Malaysia and other ASEAN countries should be optimistic about the future of RCEP. As an important engine for the economic recovery of various industries in the post-pandemic era, the agreement will deepen the integration of global industrial chains. Certain products and services will have lower tariffs, while member states can set up free-trade zones and establish preferential policies for private enterprises with partner countries. RCEP could even become a mini version of the Belt and Road Initiative within the Asia-Pacific region.

In the 21st century, countries need to abandon zero-sum thinking, unilateralism and protectionism, and actively embrace multilateral cooperation. RCEP is a turning point, boosting the economic confidence of Asia-Pacific countries while laying a foundation for future trade in both Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia, supporting economic growth and creating new opportunities. Together, members will construct a global trading system that promotes cooperation through win-win relationships.


Biden’s Win Was a Response to Trends in Sino-US Relations
Tuesday, November 10, 2020
Biden’s Win Was a Response to Trends in Sino-US Relations

Chao Chun-shan, Honorary Professor at the Graduate Institute of China Studies at Tamkang University, in My Formosa (November 9, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Victoria Pickering)

Biden’s Win Was a Response to Trends in Sino-US Relations

While US President-elect Joe Biden's first priority on taking office will be to address the divisions in American society, he will also need to make changes in foreign policy. 

It is unrealistic to expect Biden to return to Barack Obama’s policy of engagement with China. Biden’s key diplomatic strategist and nominee to be secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has openly acknowledged that China presents new challenges and that the status quo is unsustainable. Nevertheless, Biden's China advisers generally oppose the so-called "new Cold War" and "decoupling" from China. While Biden’s team will need to focus immediately on Covid-19 and emerging economic problems, both tasks will require contact and potentially cooperation with China.

Biden's past statements offer some clues on what his cross-strait policy could look like. After the severance of diplomatic relations between Taiwan and the United States in 1979, the then-senator was one of the initiators of the Taiwan Relations Act. But in 1999, he strongly opposed the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act on the grounds that formal military communications would risk provoking China. As such, Biden’s policy may not differ significantly from Trump’s. Furthermore, while Sino-US relations are likely to become more predictable after Biden takes office, the Chinese Communist Party’s objective of achieving reunification is unlikely to change.  

Some people in Taiwan had been choosing sides in the US election. This is futile and the government should refrain from doing this. Diplomacy is about forging good relations so it is natural to focus diplomatic work on the ruling party. The existence of opposition parties, however, should be considered in relations with other democracies. Both the ruling and opposition parties in Taiwan must put Taiwan’s interests first rather than using elections elsewhere as a reason to argue.