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263 articles in total 
Taiwan ranked 16th in the World Competitiveness Ranking 2019

 

According to the recently published “World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY) 2019” by International Institute for Management Development (IMD), Lausanne, Switzerland, Taiwan ranked 16th (17th place last year) in the competitiveness scoreboard.  In the overall ranking, the top three are Singapore, Hong Kong, and USA, followed by Switzerland, UAE, Netherlands, Ireland, Demark, Sweden, and Qatar.    In Asia, Singapore, Hong Kong and China (14th) are ahead of Taiwan.  China dropped from 13th place.  Japan ranked 30th, while Korea is in 28th place.  Singapore scored 100, while Taiwan scored 88.239 and China is slightly up (88.775).  This year, the WCY provides the same extensive coverage of 63 countries. The WCY analyzes and ranks the ability of nations to create and maintain an environment that sustains the competitiveness of enterprises.  Using 333 indicators (about two-thirds hard data (hard statistics 143, background data 92); one-thirds soft data (survey data 92), the survey criteria have been selected and are grouped under four main factors: Economic Performance, Government Efficiency, Business Efficiency, and Infrastructure.  Last year IMD used 258 criteria. Taiwan’s overall ranks in four main categories are: 15 for economic performance, 12 for government efficiency, 14 for business efficiency, and 19 for infrastructure.  The business efficiency has improved sufficiently over the previous year (from 20 jumped to 14).    Taiwan’s National Development Council indicated that the main challenges in 2019 are: 1. Build a national integral strategy to meet the trends of globalization, digitalization and smartization, 2. Accelerate industrial innovation and digital transformation,  3. Improve labor participation and cultivation, and recruitment of talent, 4. Foster social cohesion and social inclusion, and 5. Towards environmental sustainability, including energy saving and carbon reduction.

 

 

 

Post: 2019-06-07
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St .Vincent and the Grenadines Minister of Health Luke Browne delivered a powerful speech in favor of Taiwan’s participation in WHA

 

At the opening session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) on May 20, St.Vincent and the Grenadines Minister of Health Luke Browne delivered a powerful speech outing the common sense reasons why Taiwan should logically be included in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) annual forum.  The 71th WHA was held in Geneva, Switzerland.   

The following is the complete transcript of Browne's speech:

"Mr. President, we are once again debating a proposed supplementary agenda item entitled 'Inviting Taiwan to Participate in the World Health Assembly as an Observer.' I look forward to the day when the objective being pursued is achieved, the just aspirations of the Taiwanese people realized, and purely health considerations take precedence at this supposedly 'World Health Assembly.'

There's simply no principled basis why Taiwan should not be here. The argument in favor of allowing Taiwan to participate in this assembly as an observer are straightforward and clearcut.

We all know that the PRC government does not exercise authority and control over Taiwan and cannot be reasonably said to represent it here. Taiwan was never defined to be a part of the PRC, nor can it properly considered so to be, since the two places have separate, autonomous, independent, and very different governments.

The participation of Taiwan at this assembly as an observer is neither illegal, as suggested by the delegate from the People's Republic of China, nor inconsistent with any resolution. As we could see from the fact that Taiwan used to be here as an observer in previous times.

The only reason why it is not here now is because of the fact that the government in Beijing does not like the current administration in Taipei. Is this right?

Should the legitimate health interests of the 23 million people in Taiwan be held ransom to the preferences of a government? Interestingly, the fact that Taiwan was previously allowed to be here as an observer is an open acknowledgment by the PRC itself that it could not adequately represent the interests of Taiwan at this forum.

If Taiwan were really and truly a part of the PRC, should it ever have been allowed to come to this assembly as an observer? Can a part of my country, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, be invited to sit here as an observer?

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is of the view that the proposed invitation of Taiwan to participate in the World Health Assembly, at least as an observer, is not even incompatible with the oft-cited 'one China' principle. Just like the participation of several nations from the Caribbean in this forum is consistent with our cherished and valued notion of one Caribbean.

One China, just like one Caribbean, can and should only be construed as a reference to a common history, culture, and heritage. Mr. President, I ask that I incline thine ear onto wisdom and reason, apply thine heart onto understanding, and allow the supplementary item entitled 'Inviting Taiwan to Participate in the World Health Assembly as an Observer' to be placed on the agenda in the interest of the health and welfare of the 23 million people of the world located in Taiwan and universal health coverage.

Thank you."

In response, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen took Twitter to thank Browne for his “Stanch support of Taiwan”. 

Post: 2019-05-25
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Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) & AIT @40: Celebrating 40 Years of Friendship

On April 15, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) held an event to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the TRA at new office compound in Neihu, Taipei.  The former speaker Paul Ryan led a 20 plus delegation to bring the warmest regards from the Trump Administration and Taiwan’s countless friends in Washington.  Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, joined AIT Chairman James Moriarty and AIT Director Brent Christensen in offering remarks at the celebration.  President Tsai Ing-wen and other prominent individuals also attended the ceremony.  Following the ceremony, AIT hosted a reception highlighting forty years of U.S.-Taiwan partnership and friendship.  From April 15 through April 17, AIT and MOFA, in cooperation with Taipei 101, sponsored a light display on the side of Taipei 101 celebrating forty year friendship and partnership.   During the ceremony, President Tsai said “The TRA is more than just a policy.  It is a commitment to the values of freedom and democracy.   So on this special day, let’s pledge to bring this enduring partnership to the next level.  Let’s turn Taiwan into a regional hub that connects Asia and the rest of the world, so that the beacon of democracy can bring the light of hope to people longing to be free.  Taiwan and the US have achieved so much together over the past four decades.  I have every reason to believe that even as we are here today to honor the past, and celebrate the present, the best is yet to come.”    As the head of the US delegation, Paul Ryan delivered a short speech.   The followings are some of his remarks: “The strategy of the United States is to ensure that freedom and openness flourish in Indo-Pacific region.  In this endeavor, we couldn’t ask for a better friend than Taiwan.  Taiwan is a democratic success story, a reliable partner, and a force for good in the world.  Vice President Pence captured it well in his speech last October outlining U.S. policy toward China when he said “American will always believe that Taiwan’s embrace of democracy shows a better path for all the Chinese people”, and for that matter, for all people wherever they call home.”

Post: 2019-04-18
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President Tsai interviewed by CNN
 

On February 19, Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen was interviewed by Matt Rivers, CNN, at Presidential Building. President Tsai Ing-wen responded to questions regarding developments in the international sphere, Taiwan-US relations, and cross-strait relations.

 

The following is a full text of the interview:

Q: I wanted to begin with your new year's address. Earlier this year you gave an address, and you specifically said that China must respect that Taiwan will never give up its sovereignty. Explain that a little bit, and do you ever foresee, under any circumstance, Taiwan reunifying with the Mainland? 

A: We need to look at the current overall international situation and Taiwan's own situation. We are facing a China that is growing stronger and stronger, and its ambitions are also getting stronger and stronger. In fact, it seeks to become a world hegemony. If we look back, Taiwan has been a successful example with respect to the development of its economy, democratic system, and core values, such as human rights and freedom. Taiwan has done well in such areas. We, the people of Taiwan, are very proud of the progress made over these past postwar decades. 

However, unlike before, the China that we are facing has become stronger by the day, as has its ambition. The threat from China is also growing. Under such circumstances, our greatest challenge is whether we can continue to maintain our independent existence and security, our prosperity from economic development, and our democracy. To Taiwan, this is the most important question at hand. 

Chairman Xi Jinping's New Year's address alerted Taiwan to the fact that its independent existence could be changed, because Xi has started to talk about unification and the "one country, two systems" concept. This is a grave warning to the people of Taiwan. We had to immediately and clearly reiterate that the people of Taiwan cannot accept "one country, two systems." 

We realize that we cannot convey a vague message out of courtesy or diplomatic considerations. We must clearly tell China's leaders that Taiwan will not accept "one country, two systems." 

Here I would like to especially say that China's ambitions and intentions do not just involve Taiwan. It seeks opportunities to control or influence all countries in the region, and even beyond. China's pressure on Taiwan is an issue not only for Taiwan, but for all regional countries and beyond. It is a problem that all of us must face together. 

 

Q: Going back a little bit to what you first talked with Xi Jinping. We've heard President Xi's rhetoric about "never losing an inch of our motherland." We've seen his practice of increasing military drills around Taiwan and the Taiwan Strait. How have such threats affected your policy, your policy making here in Taiwan and have they forced you, has his rhetoric forced you, or China's policies forced you, to become more hardline yourself? 

A: Indeed China has steadily stepped up its military threat against Taiwan. In fact, its military threat is not limited to Taiwan. It extends to the entire region. China has certainly increased its military preparedness and capability rapidly over the past few decades. This has awoken us to the fact that we must continue to enhance our own defense capability. We must reevaluate our strategies, especially in drawing up an asymmetrical warfare approach. 

We also hope that if we are threated militarily by China, many neighboring countries and like-minded nations will come together in support of Taiwan. We hope they will safeguard Taiwan, this very important place in terms of security, industry, and free and democratic development. 

 

Q: Given that threat, given what we're seeing in Chinese state media, certain pundits in Chinese state media have been fueling speculation over an invasion sooner rather than later. How concerned are you about that scenario? Do you think that state media in China is bluffing, or do you see Taiwan facing an unprecedented existential crisis?

A: I don't think that any president or leader would rule out the possibility of military conflict. That's why we have to ensure that our military preparedness is at its best at all times. However, military action must come from a formal political decision. Therefore, in our many political deliberations and counterstrategies, we must take into account how to increase the political cost that China would incur if it were to use force against Taiwan. If the political cost is high enough, I don't believe that the Chinese leader would rashly resort to military action. 

 

Q: Clearly Beijing is trying to extract both political and also economic costs on you and Taiwan as a whole. Airlines, automakers, clothing lines--even the bakery, I believe, that you visited in California have been pressured by Beijing. Do you find it frustrating, depressing as the leader of Taiwan that you consistently see those kind of actions from Beijing, and what do you think you can do to change that?

A: I think that perhaps China believes that by doing this, it would make the Taiwanese people feel even more frustrated, that it would lower our morale. In reality, if we observe the Taiwanese people, every time such an incident occurs, we all become very angry. We feel less and less amicable toward China. What I want to say is that such actions by China actually have the opposite effect on Taiwan. They do not, as China imagines, force the Taiwanese people to concede. They do not produce the intended result. 

 

Q: We saw the KMT make significant gains in recent local elections. What do you take away from that, and is that not a clear signal from the public that they are dissatisfied with the current direction of the country or of Taiwan?  And what is the message that the people send to you and your administration?

A: The recent local elections were simply that, local. The main focus was issues of domestic policy. Since I took office in May 2016, we have made some bold moves regarding reform, including pension reform. People affected by these moves were displeased, and their disaffection accumulated and spread. At the same time, Taiwan's society has seen differing opinions on divisive issues, for example same-sex marriage. During the elections, there was a clash of opinions. 

Also, certain domestic policy measures did not address the needs of the vulnerable. As a result of such issues, the people decided to send a warning to the governing party during these local elections. But as these were local elections, cross-strait relations were not a key issue. So the results cannot be interpreted to mean a change in attitude toward China. 

 

Q: Speaking of elections, we have seen disinformation campaigns run by autocratic governments across the world. Your government has said that it too is worried about disinformation campaigns. What did you see in terms of a specific disinformation campaign during the last set of elections and are you worried about another disinformation campaign during the upcoming elections in 2020?

A: Disinformation was indeed an important issue in this past election. In addition to disinformation, attacks by external cyber forces also had a major impact. Some disinformation was from within Taiwan, but a great deal was manufactured elsewhere. Accounts in many nations were used to send disinformation to Taiwan. Disinformation definitely had an impact on voters' judgment in this election, that is true. After the election we began to discuss how to address disinformation because it had already harmed our democracy. 

In a democracy, people vote to express their opinion. But voters must be acting on accurate information. If their information is false, the ballot they cast will show a bias. Under such conditions, democracy is harmed.

Regardless of political party, we all have a common interest. Taiwan's democracy must be a well-functioning democracy. We must have a solution to deal with disinformation and cyberattacks from certain sources. So on the one hand, we are strengthening our legal framework to manage these issues. On the other, we are improving the government's ability to make clarifications. Most importantly, disinformation is largely coming in from outside Taiwan using foreign accounts. This means Taiwan is not the only one who suffers. Transnational cooperation is required. We have started to discuss such cooperation to fight disinformation with other countries. 

 

Q: So I'd like to move to your relationship with the United States, and starting with then President-elect Donald Trump. He accepted, in an unprecedented move, a congratulatory call from you shortly after the election in 2016 before he took office. What did that signify to you? 

A: I was grateful to have this opportunity to speak directly with the President of the United States. This happened just after President Trump won the election. Through the phone call, we hoped to congratulate him. We also briefly exchanged ideas on bilateral ties. This was the first phone call involving the presidents of our respective nations since we broke diplomatic ties with the United States nearly four decades ago. But there was something more important than the content or fact of the phone call. The call was meaningful because it bolstered communication between the US and Taiwan. This means more effective communication at a higher level. With this, bilateral ties can advance, or the likelihood of progress grows. So I was grateful to have this opportunity, as it meant we are communicating at a higher level, even if it isn't always at the presidential level. 

 

Q: And yet we do know that Donald Trump is an unconventional US president. Given how we have seen him buck other international norms throughout his presidency, and given the United States' current priority in making deals with the Mainland, how would you address those concerns?

A: We understand that any President, when making decisions, has to consider many factors, especially the interests of his or her own country. In this vein, President Trump has consistently stressed America First.

As for how we manage relations with the US or other countries, looking at our current situation, and with the pressure from China, the level of uncertainty is indeed relatively high in many regards. We are very accustomed to dealing with such uncertainty and making sure that it does not fundamentally affect our decision-making model. 

 

Q: A group of Senators in the US recently asked Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to formally extend an invitation to you to address a joint session of Congress. Should that invitation ever be formally extended to you by the Speaker of the House, would you accept it?

A: This is not a simple question of extending and accepting an invitation. Before issuing such an invitation, the US would certainly take into account its own interests and assess the overall political situation. From our perspective, would we accept such an invitation if it were extended? We would have to look at it from several angles. Would delivering an address in Washington, DC, be in the interests of Taiwan, benefit Taiwan-US relations, and serve peace and stability in the region? It would require comprehensive consideration. If such an invitation were in fact to be extended—which at the moment is still very much hypothetical—we would deal with it very carefully. Let me reiterate that we would take into account Taiwan's own interests, regional stability, as well as Taiwan-US relations. We would seek to do a very thorough evaluation.

 

Q: I wanted to ask you about the US launching a campaign against certain Chinese tech firms, most notably Huawei, basically accusing companies like Huawei of acting in concert with Beijing, acting as an arm of the surveillance state. The US has encouraged other countries not to use Huawei products. In your experience, are those concerns justified based on what you've seen here in Taiwan in similar circumstances and what would your advice be to the US and another countries facing this situation?

A: In terms of managing the Huawei situation, we've taken an extremely cautious attitude, too. Our government has a special task force to deal with this. In terms of restrictions, we've limited the use of Huawei products at government agencies or organizations that have access to more sensitive information.

 

Q: So with the Taiwan Travel Act, with the US approval to sell certain submarine technology to Taiwan, we have seen signs that the US military and government is strengthening its ties with Taiwan. That said, what we also hear is President Xi routinely using the kind of rhetoric saying that he will never renounce the use of force. So forgive the blunt question but: "If China invaded tomorrow, would you count on the US military to be there?"

A: Our defenses are well prepared for an attack at any time—for any situation where we would need to fend China off for 24 hours. So looking at Taiwan's defense capabilities for this kind of situation, we are capable of holding off any first wave of attacks. So I think that for China itself, after its first wave of attacks, it would have to respond to international pressure, and the shock to its own economy. So we would hope that after withstanding any first wave of attacks ourselves, other countries throughout the world would stand up in unison and put strong pressure upon China in response.

 

Q: And you are confident that they would do so led by the United States?

A: It's rather like I already mentioned. If it's Taiwan today, then everyone is sure to ask, "Which country will it be tomorrow?" There are countries in the region who might wonder whether they will be facing the same military threats if they fail to toe China's line. So I don't think any attack is something that Taiwan would have to put up with purely on its own. It would reveal China's intent, showing that China will not hesitate to use military power in seeking to promote its expansionist ambitions. 

So under such circumstances, not only Taiwan's interests would be impacted. The overall interests impacted, and the potential damage, would be regional, or even global.

 

Q: And here you are, sitting here as the President of Taiwan, but more than that, you are also one of the only female political leaders in the world. What does that mean to you?

A: Being the female President of Taiwan is very meaningful. Taiwan is the first democracy in the long history of the ethnic Chinese world, and this democracy produced a female leader. In other words, women should not be restricted. There is no limit to what women can achieve. Looking at it from another perspective, Taiwan's democracy is a truly commendable achievement. It is indeed very meaningful for the development of democracy in general that such an excellent democracy could appear in the ethnic Chinese world and that it could produce a female President.

 

Q: And yet what we see are certain Chinese officials, certain state media, they attack you constantly, not just your policies but personally. They used quotes saying that you're emotional, and extreme as a leader. And it's directly tied to you being a woman oftentimes. How do you not take that personally? How do you deal with those kinds of verbal assaults?

A: Such assaults happen every day. They come not just from China but also from within Taiwan. Leaders, whether male or female, have to face a wide array of attacks. Many of these attacks are based on conjecture, or created on purpose. They often stem from false information or distortions of facts. The most important thing is that a leader's judgment is not affected by these deliberate attacks. Perhaps the goal of people initiating these attacks is to impact the determination or judgment of leaders. Our most important task is to understand why people make these attacks and make sure we are not affected by them.

 

Q: Is there a part of you that hates having to answer questions about being a female politician? But is there not a part of you that wishes that female leaders were normalized enough that in every single profile interview you do, you would not have to answer these kinds of questions?

A: Until female leaders are a normal and common sight, every female leader, including myself, has an obligation to answer related questions.

Regardless of whether I like these questions, I believe I have an obligation to answer them on behalf of women. 

 

Q: I wanted to ask you about your dogs and cats, who have kind of become famous in their own right, throughout the campaign, social media. How much is being an animal lover, how much is having a full house of animals, three dogs two cats, how much is that a part of who you are?

A: Of course, I greatly cherish these animals, and I enjoy interacting with them, I hope that they can have a happier life. But I also want to convey a message to the public with my cats and dogs. My cats are rescued strays, and my dogs are retired guide dogs. Many in our society choose not to care for such animals. But I want to show that retired dogs can be just as cute and loveable. Rescued cats are just as capable of interacting with you emotionally, and are often more intelligent. They very much deserve to be properly appreciated. By doing this as President, I hope that others can follow my lead and cherish these stray animals and these retired and older dogs, and make a greater effort to care for them.

 

Q: And finally, Madam President, I wondered if I might get you tell us something about yourself that maybe the public doesn't know. Did you ever skip a class in high school? What's your favorite karaoke song? Tell me something that maybe the public doesn't know about you, and maybe they'd be surprised by.

A: After so many elections, there's not much left the public doesn't know. But in answer to your question, yes, there were times I really didn't want to go to class, so I skipped it. 

As to karaoke, no one has ever asked me this before, I can answer that. Yes, I've been to karaoke, but I never sang. Usually when I went with friends, I would bring a book and listen to them singing.

 

Q: I just wanted to ask you, I guess while we're on the plane about the rigors of the job. Is being president something, that, obviously we know it's a 24/7 kind of job. Does the relentlessness of the work ever get to you, you know, in terms of having to constantly be on call and doing things every day?

A: Well, once you get used to it, it's the life of every politician I guess. Especially elected politicians. You have to prepare to meet with different people at different times and perhaps the first ten minutes you meet with a group, and another ten minutes with another group. So, you have to change your mind, and get yourself prepared for another group in five or ten minutes.

 

Q: Yeah, you're wearing different hats. Yeah, yeah. Is there anything you look back on in your first couple years in office and say, "That's a regret" or "That's a disappointment," something you could've or should have done differently?

A: Well, that is a tough question. I think for the first and the first half of the second year, I spent too much time managing government affairs, and I also spent a lot of time making foreign visits to our diplomatic allies. So I sort of, many people thought that I was a bit detached from them, because when I was an opposition leader, when I was a presidential candidate, they saw me all the time, talking to them directly. When I became the president, I seemed to be somewhat rather isolated and they feel that there was a distance of some sort between me and them. So if I regret anything, I would say, yes for the first one-and-a-half years, perhaps I should spend more time to go out and to meet with people and talk to them. So that they can get a sense that this is a politician that we are familiar with.

 

Q: Any thoughts on 2020 yet? Whether you're going to seek reelection, or any thoughts on your future? 

A: Well, it's natural that any sitting president wants to do more the country, wants to finish things on his or her agenda, and it's quite natural for a president seeking another four years to complete his or her agenda.

 

Post: 2019-03-05
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Five U.S. senators asked Pelosi to invite President Tsai to address Congress

On February 7, U.S. Senators Cory Gardner, Macro Rubio, Tom Cotton, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to invite Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen to address Congress during a joint session later this year as part of celebrations surrounding the 40th anniversary of Taiwan Relations Act.    This is the first time that the influential senators openly urged the House Speaker to look into the possibility of inviting President Tsai.  It is very obvious that the senators’ intension is to protect Taiwan and in the mean time to send a “powerful message” to China.  This might also help President Trump during the current negotiation on US-China trade issues.  

The following is full text.

Madam Speaker:

We write to respectfully urge you to invite Tsai Ing-Wen, the President of Taiwan, to address a joint session of Congress in the near future. This invitation would be consistent with U.S. law, enhance U.S. leadership in the Indo-Pacific region, and justly reward a true friend and ally of the United States and the American people.

As you know, April 10th will mark the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). The TRA forms the basis of the U.S. unofficial relationship with Taiwan. In particular, the TRA requires “to make clear that the United States decision to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China rests upon the expectation that the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means.” 

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has continued to escalate its rhetoric and actions that threaten Taiwan’s democracy and sovereignty. Since the May 2016 inauguration of President Tsai, five nations have withdrawn diplomatic recognition from Taiwan, due to pressure from Beijing. In his New Year’s message earlier this month, PRC President Xi Jinping would not rule out the use of force to “re-unify” mainland China and Taiwan.

Since the TRA went into effect, Congress has expressed near-unanimous bipartisan support for Taiwan, including encouraging high-level leader visits between Taiwan and the United States. Most recently, the Taiwan Travel Act (P.L. 115-135), signed into law on March 16, 2018, explicitly allows “high-level officials of Taiwan to enter the United States, under conditions which demonstrate appropriate respect for the dignity of such officials, and to meet with officials of the United States.” The Asia Reassurance Initiative Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-409), signed into law on December 31, 2018, re-affirms the provisions of the Taiwan Travel Act.  

While we understand that the honor of addressing a joint address to Congress is generally reserved for recognized heads of state, there is also clear precedent for inviting prominent democratic leaders. On November 15, 1989, Lech Walesa addressed a joint session of Congress as chairman of the Solidarity movement. On June 26, 1990, Nelson Mandela addressed a joint session of Congress as deputy president of the African National Congress. 

President Tsai is a genuine democratic leader engaged in a struggle against an authoritarian and oppressive system that seeks to deny the Taiwanese people democratic rights and fundamental freedoms.  Extending an invitation for President Tsai to address a joint session of Congress in this historic year for U.S.-Taiwan relations would send a powerful message that the United States and the American people will always stand with the oppressed, and never the oppressor. 

We urge you to favorably consider this request.

Post: 2019-02-20
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An open letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau from 57 international scholars

Dear Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:

The undersigned, international scholars, religious leaders and former government officials wish to extend their solidarity with Canada on the unfair and unjust detention of three Canadian citizens by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and other pressures that are being put on Canada to comply with the PRC’s demands to turn the legal process in the deportation case of Meng Wanzhou (孟晚舟) into a political exchange. We admire the way that your government has handled this issue non-politically, in keeping with international law and diplomatic norms.

The detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and the new death sentence handed down to Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, are in our view serious infringements on human rights and international law. The Beijing government is playing hostage diplomacy with Canada. We thus urge you to remain strong and uphold the rule of law in the face of the PRC’s intimidating tactics. We also call on our own governments to stand in solidarity with Canada at this time.

As international scholars who have for many decades observed the behavior of the PRC government toward the country of our academic specialization, Taiwan, we must say that China’s actions are regrettably a new norm. The government in Beijing is increasingly using threats and intimidation to get its way, and the international community has been too lax in looking the other way.

Taiwan and Canada are natural allies. The two countries share many of the same values, including democracy, respect for human rights, and a belief in the dignity of the individual. In spite of its momentous transition to democracy in the 1990s — or perhaps because it represented a democratic alternative — Taiwan has long been at the receiving end of pressures and bullying from the rulers in Beijing. Taiwan’s experience in dealing with these may be helpful for Canada at this point.

In fact, Taiwan has had to deal with a very similar situation: In March 2017, a Taiwanese citizen, Mr Lee Ming-che (李明哲), disappeared when he traveled to China. Mr Lee, a longtime and respected human rights worker and democracy advocate, has been in Chinese detention for almost two years now. He was held incommunicado for many months, eventually put on a show trial in September 2017 and sentenced to five years in prison for “subverting state power.”

China also uses economic pressure on Taiwan, including using Taiwanese businesspeople working in China to pressure the government. We note that the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland’s statement on Dec. 7 last year “expressed Canada’s strong disappointment that China is involving private industry and obliging them to take a position on political issues.” Canada and Taiwan are in the same boat, and should cooperate and coordinate much more than they have done before.

We thus recommend that you use this occasion as an opportunity to review and enhance Canada’s relations with a free and democratic Taiwan, strengthening exchanges based on shared values and principles of human rights and democracy.

Canada

1. Clive Ansley, international lawyer, Courtenay, British Columbia.

2. J. Michael Cole, senior fellow, University of Nottingham, former analyst at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Ottawa.

3. Ed File, emeritus professor of social science, York University, Toronto, Ontario.

4. Harry Hsiao, emeritus professor of history, University of Victoria, British Columbia.

5. Andre Laliberte, professor and co-holder of the research chair in Taiwan studies at the University of Ottawa.

6. Diana Lary, emeritus professor of modern Chinese history, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia.

7. Albert J.F. Lin, emeritus professor, Ryerson University, Toronto.

8. The Very Reverend Dr Bruce McLeod, former moderator, United Church of Canada.

9. Judith Nagata, professor of anthropology, York University.

10. Wayne Pajunen, writer and former legislative aide, House of Commons, Ottawa.

11. Terence Russell, senior scholar, Asian Studies Centre, University of Manitoba.

12. Scott Simon, professor and co-holder of the research chair in Taiwan studies at the University of Ottawa.

13. Michael Stainton, Taiwanese Human Rights Association of Canada, Toronto, Ontario.

14. Wilma Welsh, former missionary to Taiwan and moderator of the 132nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, Guelph, Ontario.

15. Wendy Wong, York Centre for Asian Research, York University.

Australia and New Zealand

16. Anne-Marie Brady, Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Canterbury, Otautahi-Christchurch, Aotearoa-New Zealand.

17. Kevin Carrico, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

18. Feng Chongyi, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia.

19. J. Bruce Jacobs, emeritus professor of Asian Languages and Studies, Monash University.

20. David Schak, Griffith University, Queensland, Australia.

Europe

21. Michael Danielsen, Taiwan Corner, Copenhagen, Denmark.

22. Michael Rand Hoare, School of Oriental and African Studies, London, UK.

23. Paul Jobin, Academia Sinica, Taiwan, and University of Paris Diderot, France.

24. Bruno Kaufmann, European Democracy Foundation, Switzerland.

25. Sasa Istenic Kotar, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

26. Lutgard Lams, Faculty of Arts, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium.

27. Christian Schafferer, Department of International Trade, Overseas Chinese Institute; chair, Austrian Association of East Asian Studies; editor, Journal of Contemporary Eastern Asia, Vienna, Austria.

28. Gerrit van der Wees, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, and former editor of Taiwan Communique, The Hague, The Netherlands.

29. Michael Yahuda, visiting scholar, George Washington University; professor emeritus at London School of Economics, UK.

Taiwan

30. Fang-ming Chen, emeritus professor and chairman, Graduate Institute of Taiwanese Literature, National Chengchi University, Taipei.

31. H. H. Michael Hsiao, Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica, Taipei.

32. Dean Karalekas, South China Sea Think Tank, Taipei.

33. Michael Y.M. Kau, former deputy minister of foreign affairs and former president of Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, Taipei.

34. Michael Scanlon, Shih Chien University, Kaohsiung.

35. William Stanton, former director of the American Institute in Taiwan, Taipei.

US

36. John Tkacik, International Assessment and Strategy Center, retired US foreign service officer, Alexandria, Virginia.

37. Thomas Bartlett, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California.

38. Joseph Bosco, Georgetown University (retired), formerly at the office of the secretary of defense, US Department of Defense, Washington.

39. Gordon Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China, New Jersey.

40. Peter Chow, City University of New York, New York.

41. June Teufel Dreyer, University of Miami, Florida.

42. Brock Freeman, American Citizens for Taiwan, Seattle, Washington.

43. Edward Friedman, professor emeritus, Department of Political Science, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin.

44. Thomas G. Hughes, former chief of staff to the late US senator Claiborne Pell, Washington.

45. Richard C. Kagan, professor emeritus, Hamline University, St Paul, Minnesota.

46. Perry Link, professor emeritus of East Asian studies, Princeton University, New Jersey.

47. Daniel Lynch, associate professor of International Relations, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California.

48. Victor Mair, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

49. James Mann, author and fellow in residence at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Washington.

50. Timothy Rich, Western Kentucky University, Kentucky.

51. Bert Scruggs, Department of East Asian Studies, University of California, Irvine.

52. James D. Seymour, Columbia University, New York City.

53. Peter Tague, professor of law, Georgetown University Law Center, Washington.

54. Ross Terrill, Fairbank Center Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

55. Arthur Waldron, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

56. Jack Williams, professor emeritus, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan.

57. Ambassador Stephen Young, US Department of State (retired), Londonderry, New Hampshire.

Post: 2019-02-11
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Taiwan Ranked 20th in 2019 Freedom House Report

According to the recently published Freedom House’s annual report, Taiwan scored high (93 points), same as last year.  This year, a total of 195 countries were evaluated.  The nations with the highest freedom ranking were Finland, Norway and Sweden (score 100). 19 countries were ahead of Taiwan, such as Netherlands, Denmark, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Canada and Japan (score 96), while the United States did not score well (86 points).   In Asia, Japan again was on top and China is near the bottom (score 11) of the list.  Each nation’s score is based on two ratings: one for political rights and the other for civil liberties.  The freedom status was designated for each country (Free, Partly Free, and Not Free).     The score higher than 70 points is Free, while 30-70 is considered Partly Free and below 30 is Not Free.  Per report, 86 countries stand Free.  The number of countries qualifying as Partly Free stands at 59, and a total of 50 countries are deemed not Free.  Of the 195 countries assessed, 45% were rated Free, 30% Partly Free and 25% Not Free.  The main finding of this report is “Democracy in Retreat”.   The report points out several concerns, such as the wave of democratization rolls back; an ebb tide in established democracies;  the cost of faltering leadership; freedom of expression; a new and more effective form of digital authoritarianism and the rights of migrants and refugees.   In summary, 68 countries declined in scores and 50 countries did improve.

 


 

Post: 2019-02-09
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Open letter to democratic Taiwan

Open letter to democratic Taiwan

This is the open letter signed by 44 scholars, former government and military officials, and friends of Taiwan to express their support of Taiwan’s democracy in response to the recent threat from Chinese President Xi Jinping.

We the undersigned scholars, former government and military officials, and other friends of Taiwan who have witnessed and admired Taiwan’s transition to democracy for many decades wish to express to the people of Taiwan our sense of urgency to maintain unity and continuity at this critical moment in Taiwan’s history.

It is obvious that during the past two years, the People’s Republic of China has left no stone unturned in its attempts to squeeze Taiwan’s international space, threaten it with a buildup of military power and make it appear as if Taiwan’s only future lies in integration with an authoritarian China.

This pressure culminated on Wednesday last week with a speech by Chinese President and Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping (習近平), telling the Taiwanese people that “the Taiwan question” was a Chinese internal affair, that unification under China’s “one country, two systems” principle was the only option for the future and Taiwan independence was a “dead end.”

In her response the same day, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) emphasized that the vast majority of the Taiwanese people strongly rejected “one country, two systems” and that her government had never accepted the so-called “1992 consensus.”

She then reiterated her “Taiwan consensus” based on the “four musts,” elaborated in her New Year’s address the day before. These include that China must accept the reality of the existence of the Republic of China (Taiwan), and respect the commitment of the 23 million people of Taiwan to freedom and democracy.

As international scholars, writers and former officials we believe this is the right response. It is also illustrative of the stable and responsible leadership Tsai has displayed in the face of the mounting threat from communist China.

We applaud the courageous stance of the Taiwanese people in resisting Chinese pressures and protecting their own democratic system.

However, we express our concerns that Beijing’s latest subversive techniques of deception and disinformation could sow division and confusion in Taiwan’s body politic and create the kind of civil unrest that Beijing lists as one of the pretexts for using force against Taiwan — which would nevertheless constitute aggression in violation of the UN Charter.

In our view, Tsai is a most effective and knowledgeable statesperson. With her quiet demeanor and careful balancing she has not only significantly advanced Taiwan’s place in the international community, and elevated Taiwan’s profile on the international radar screen, but also stood firm in defending Taiwan’s hard-won freedom and democracy.

Just as Taiwan has made itself a democratic model for the region, Tsai has earned the respect of other nations for her courageous and composed response to the aggressive bullying of Taiwan’s powerful neighbor. We urge our own governments to make clear to Beijing that Taiwan does not stand alone.

Taiwan is at a crossroads as never before. It is under an existential threat by the People’s Republic of China. While we respect the reality that Taiwan, like all democratic polities, has a range of domestic issues that must be resolved, that democratic process should proceed in a manner that does not detract from the overall national unity in the face of the larger threat to Taiwan’s existence as a free and democratic nation.

If Taiwanese across the political spectrum fail to understand this threat, and go on with business as usual, this provides Beijing’s repressive leaders with an opportunity to divide Taiwanese society and increasingly make it an inevitability that Taiwan is incorporated into China.

This happened with East Turkestan in 1949, Tibet in 1950 to 1951, and Hong Kong in 1997. The repression and lack of freedom and democracy there should serve as a wake-up call for Taiwan.

We thus appeal to the people of Taiwan to maintain a clear vision for their future as a free and democratic nation that is a full and equal member in the international family of nations. The process may be slow and cumbersome, but it is essential to maintain unity and to be supportive of a democratically elected president who has demonstrated balance, flexibility and toughness.

These are the qualities Taiwan needs to navigate the stormy seas ahead towards a brighter and more secure future.

國際學者給台灣人民的公開信  (Taiwanese version)

我們這封信的共同聯署人有學者、前政府文職和軍職官員,及其他台灣友人,歷經幾十年見證並讚賞台灣的民主轉型,希望藉這封公開信向台灣人民表明,在台灣歷史的關鍵時刻,我們認識到台灣應保持團結與持續的急迫性。

很顯然的,在過去兩年,中華人民共和國不擇手段試圖壓縮台灣的國際空間,以擴充其軍力作為威脅,要造成台灣的未來只有納入威權體制之中國的印象。

這些壓力累積到二一九年一月二日,中國國家主席兼中共中央總書記習近平的談話達新高點,習近平在談話中告訴台灣人民,「台灣問題」是中國的內政,依「一國兩制」的原則完成統一是未來唯一的選項,台灣獨立是「死路」。

蔡英文總統在同一天回應習近平的談話,強調絕大多數台灣人民強烈反對「一國兩 制」;她主政的政府從未接受所謂「九二共識」。

她並說明,她主張的「台灣共識」是基於「四個必需」,包括中國必需接受中華民國(台灣)存在的事實,和必須尊重台灣二千三百萬人民對自由與民主的堅持。

作為國際學者、作家及前政府官員,我們深信這是正確的反應。如此反應也顯示出 蔡總統在面對共產中國日增的威脅下,所展現的穩健與盡責的領導能力。

我們對台灣人民抗拒中國威脅,衛護民主制度的勇毅立場感到欽佩。但是我們耽心 北京最近採取的欺騙與散佈謠言的顛覆技倆,可能播下台灣內部分裂與混亂的種子, 造成北京列為對台灣動武之藉口的內部動亂──雖然使用武力構成違反聯合國憲章 的侵略行為。

我們認為蔡總統是一位最具能力,知識豐富的政治人物。以她沈穩的性格和謹慎持平的立場,她不但使台灣國際地位顯著增進,提升台灣在國際間的能見度,而且堅定維護台灣得來不易的自由與民主。

正如台灣成為地區民主模範,蔡總統對強鄰侵略性霸淩所作的果決與鎮定回應,己贏得其他國家的尊敬。我們促請我們自己本國的政府也向北京表明,台灣並不是孤 立無援。

台灣正處於前所未見的十字路口。它的生存正受中華人民共和國的威脅。雖然我們 尊重台灣,和所有民主體制一樣,有許多內政問題必需解決的現實,但在台灣作為 自由與民主國家的生存面臨更大威脅時,民主的程序應該以不影響舉國團結的方式 進行。

如果不同政治立場的台灣人民不瞭解這項威脅,依舊爭紛如常,那將給手段高壓的 北京領導人有機會分化台灣社會,使台灣被納入中國日益變成不可避免。這已經發 生在一九四九年的東突(新疆),一九五年至一九五一年的西藏,一九九七年的 香港。這些地方受到壓迫,沒有民主與自由,應作為台灣的警訊。

我們呼籲台灣人民看清未來作為自由與民主國家,成為國際社會完整與平等成員的 前景。這個過程可能緩慢和繁複,但基本要務是自己要團結支持以民主方式選出的 總統。蔡總統已展現持平、彈性和堅定的風格,台灣正是需要這種領袖特質,以渡 過風浪,航向更光明與安全的未來。

John J. Tkacik, International Assessment and Strategy Center, retired US foreign service officer, Alexandria, Virginia

Clive Ansley, international lawyer, Courtenay, British Columbia

Thomas Bartlett, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California

Joseph A. Bosco, Georgetown University (retired), formerly at the office of the secretary of defense, US Department of Defense, Washington

Kevin Carrico, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

Frank Chiang, Fordham University Law School, New York

Peter Chow, City University of New York, New York

Jerome A. Cohen, New York University Law School, New York

Michael Danielsen, Taiwan Corner, Copenhagen, Denmark

June Teufel Dreyer, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida

Feng Chongyi, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia

Carl Ford, former US assistant secretary of state, National Park University, Park, Arkansas

Brock Freeman, American Citizens for Taiwan, Seattle, Washington

Michael Rand Hoare, School of Oriental and African Studies, London

Thomas G. Hughes, former chief of staff to the late US senator Claiborne Pell, Washington

Michael A. Hunzeker, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia

J. Bruce Jacobs, professor emeritus of Asian Languages and Studies, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

Paul Jobin, Academia Sinica, Taiwan, and University of Paris Diderot, France

Richard C. Kagan, professor emeritus, Hamline University, St Paul, Minnesota

Michael Y.M. Kau, professor emeritus, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island

Bruno Kaufmann, European Democracy Foundation, Switzerland

Sasa Istenic Kotar, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Paul Kovenock, US Department of State (retired), Washington

Andre Laliberte, University of Ottawa, Canada

Perry Link, professor emeritus of East Asian studies, Princeton University, New Jersey

Victor H. Mair, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Very Reverend Dr Bruce McLeod, former moderator, United Church of Canada

Wayne Pajunen, writer and former legislative aide, House of Commons, Ottawa

Timothy S. Rich, Western Kentucky University, Kentucky

Shawna Yang Ryan, University of Hawaii, Manoa, Hawaii

Michael Scanlon, Shih Chien University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

David C. Schak, Griffith University, Queensland, Australia

James D. Seymour, Columbia University, New York City

Fang-long Shih, London School of Economics and Political Science, London

Michael Stainton, Taiwanese Human Rights Association of Canada, Toronto, Canada

William A. Stanton, former director of the American Institute in Taiwan, Taipei

Peter Tague, Georgetown University Law Center, Washington

Ross Terrill, Fairbank Center Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Arthur Waldron, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Gerrit van der Wees, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia

Jack F. Williams, professor emeritus, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan

Yenna Wu, University of California, Riverside, California

Ambassador Stephen M. Young, US department of state (retired), Londonderry, New Hampshire

Gordon G. Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China, New Jersey.

 

Post: 2019-01-15
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President Tsai blasted Xi’s “one country, two systems” remark
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Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen blasted Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “one country, two systems” remark immediately after Xi delivered his half-hour long speech in Beijing on January 2, 2019.   Xi made the remark during an event marking the 40th anniversary of the 1979 “Message to Compatriots in Taiwan” which called for the unification of China”.  In 1979, after officially establishing a diplomatic tie with the United States of American, China’s leader Deng Xiaoping issued a statement “Message to Compatriots in Taiwan” to open a new dialogue to the people in Taiwan.   This time, Xi announced plans to explore using the “one country, two systems” model with Taiwan.   Xi further explained that he would ensure that Taiwanese’s social system, way of life, personal property, religious beliefs and legal rights are fully respected and protected.   Xi listed five points for the promotion of peaceful development of cross-strait ties and peaceful unification.   However, Xi would not renounce the use of force against Taiwan.  In addition Xi mentioned the so-called “1992 consensus” and included “national unification’ as part of his definition of the “consensus”.  Su Chi, former Mainland Affairs Council Chairman under the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration, made up “1992 consensus” referring to an acknowledgement by both KMT and CCP (Chinese Communist Party).   Both sides acknowledged there is “One China”, with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.   From CCP’s interpretation, the People’s Republic of China (PROC) is the only China, while KMT claimed one China is Republic of China (ROC).    KMT used “1992 consensus” as a tactics to fool people in Taiwan, and in the mean time let China know that KMT prefers “One China” instead of “Two Chinas” or “One Taiwan, One China” in regard to political dispute between Taiwan and China.   President Tsai said that Taiwan and its people would never accept a “one country, two systems” arrangement and urged China to bravely embark on the path to democracy to fully understand the minds of Taiwanese.  On new-year day, President Tsai proposed “four musts” as the basis for moving cross-strait relations in a ppositive direction, vowing to establish mechanisms to safeguard Taiwan’s national security.   The four musts are: 1. China must recognize the existence of the Republic of China; 2. Respect the values of democracy and freedom Taiwan’s 23 million people hold dear; 3. Resolve cross-strait differences in a peaceful and equitable manner; 4. Engage in negotiations with the government of Taiwan or an institution with a mandate from the government.

Post: 2019-01-11
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Taiwan ranked 13 in the ranking of the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) 2018

World Economic Forum (WEF), Geneva, Switzerland, released The Global Competitiveness Report 2018 on October 17, 2018.  This report surveyed 140 global economies.  The ranking are calculated from both publicly available data and the Executive Opinion Survey.  The United States, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Netherlands, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Sweden, and Denmark are the top ten of the world’s most competitive economies.    In Asia, Taiwan ranked 13 (15 last year), behind Singapore, Japan, and Hong Kong; while South Korea and China ranked 15 and 28 respectively.   Ranking is based on the score of GCI.  This year WEF introduced the new Global Competitiveness Index 4.0, a much-needed economic compass, building on 40years of experience in benchmarking the drivers of long-term competitiveness. According to WEF, the index integrates well-established aspects with new and emerging levers that drive productivity and growth.    GCI is the average score of four general categories (Enabling Environment, Human Capital, Markets and Innovation Ecosystem).   It consists of 12 pillars (Institutions, Infrastructure, ICT adoption, Macroeconomic stability, Health, Skills, Product market, Labor market, Financial system, Market size, Business dynamism and Innovation capability). Taiwan received high ranking in macro-economic stability (1), innovation capability (4) and financial system (7).    Two worst rankings are health (27) and institutions (25).  There are a total of 98 items to be considered for evaluation.  WEF also provided scores and ranking for all 98 items.  In addition to scores, WEF showed  five selected contextual indicators: Population: 23.6 millions, GDP (PPP)% world GDP: 0.93, GDP per capita US$ 24,576.7, 5-year average FDI inward flow % GDP: 0.8, 10-year average annual GDP growth %: 2.6.

Post: 2018-12-01
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