China and Taiwan walking the line of rapprochement

Zhang Zhijun, head of Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing, and his Taiwan counterpart Wang Yu-chi pose for media at the start of a meeting in Taoyuan, Taiwan, 25 June 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Justine Doody, Berlin

After more than six decades of conflict over the political status of Taiwan, Beijing and Taipei are taking significant steps toward rapprochement in their relations. Yet how much Chinese influence can Taiwan’s democracy tolerate?

On 25 June 2014, for the first time in over 60 years, China sent a ministerial-level figure on an official visit to Taiwan. Read more…

China–Taiwan history: no textbook answers

Student protesting against a China Taiwan trade agreement sleep on the floor as they occupy the floor of the legislature in Taipei on March 20, 2014.

Author: Edward Vickers, Kyushu University

On 11 February 2014, representatives of the Republic of China (ROC, otherwise known as Taiwan) travelled to Nanjing. There they met officials of the People’s Republic of China for the highest-level bilateral dialogue since the ROC’s Kuomintang regime fled to Taiwan in 1949. The ROC’s former mainland capital is also infamous as the site of the Nanjing Massacre, still a source of acute friction between China and Japan. Read more…

China, Taiwan stuck in the ‘friend zone’ on Pingtan

A man reacts as a wave hits a sea wall at a beach on Pingtan island, Fujian province. Located off the east coast of China's Fujian province, Pingtan island is the country's 5th largest and relies heavily on a tourism-driven economy, although an 'experimental zone' aims to draw in foreign investment from neighboring Taiwan.  (Photo: AAP)

Author: Sheryn Lee, ANU, CSIS

In January, China appointed a Taiwanese citizen, Liang Qianlong, as deputy chief of an experimental ‘common homeland’ for both nations on Pingtan Island.

Beijing aims to transform Pingtan into a special economic zone of industrial cooperation between China and Taiwan. Read more…

For the internet age, Taiwan’s ICT industry needs a new model

A mother and daughter try a new laptop at a major electronics market in Taipei, Taiwan. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Andy Yee, Hong Kong

Taiwan has long been a world leader in high-tech hardware manufacturing, with roots all the way back to the era of export-oriented industrialisation in the 1960s. Its companies command huge market shares in critical ICT products, ranging from computer chips and smartphones to personal computers. Read more…

Japan and Taiwan ‘stingy’ balancers

Rockets are launched from the Thunderbolt 2000, a Taiwan-made multi-rocket launcher system, during a military drill in western Penghu islands on 17 April, 2013. The Taiwan defence ministry on staged its biggest live-fire military exercise since 2008, aimed at reviewing the island's defence capability against a simulated Chinese invasion. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Daniel Clausen, Fujisawa, Japan

There has been much commentary recently about the hike in Japan’s defence budget. The rise, along with other measures and rhetorical stances taken by the Abe administration, are meant to show Japan’s resolve over disputed territories and to offset China’s growing military capabilities. Read more…

Beijing’s cross-Strait calculus

Chen Deming, right, President of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), receives an embroidery portrait of him as a gift from an official as he visits the Kaohsiung Software Technology Park in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, 28 November 2013. The Chinese mainlands chief negotiator Chen Deming visited Hon Hai/Foxconn Technology Groups headquarters in New Taipei City on Tuesday 3 December 2013, wrapping up his eight-day tour to Taiwan. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Wen-Ti Sung, ANU

The long-term outlook for Taiwan’s strategic autonomy from Chinese influence may gradually come into question, even though cross-Strait relations should be stable for the foreseeable future. Intensifying dynamics in the Beijing-Taipei-Washington triangle are contributing to this scenario; in particular, the Chinese leadership’s internal consolidation, growing cross-Strait enmeshment, and US attention deficit. Read more…

Taiwan battles economic and cross-Strait tensions in 2013

A customer looks at Christmas decorations for sale at a local store in Taipei on December 18, 2013. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Sheryn Lee, University of Pennsylvania

In 2013, Taiwan’s political and economic developments again centred on its relationship with China, and the effect of cross-Strait rapprochement on Taiwan’s domestic conditions. Yet even without China as a factor, Taiwan would still face significant challenges. Read more…

Protestors show Taiwanese democracy is alive and kicking

Demonstrators wear masks of Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou during a rally in front the National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei on September 29, 2013 (Photo: AAP)

Author: Sheryn Lee, University of Pennsylvania

On 29 September 2013, tens of thousands of people held a protest across Taiwan calling on President Ma Ying-jeou to resign amid claims he abused his government powers for political purposes. The protests began near the presidential residence, calling on Ma to shoulder the responsibility for Taiwan’s stagnating economy, controversial policies and declining popularity. Read more…

Death of a conscript highlights Taiwan’s military woes

People stage a protest for Taiwanese soldier Hung Chung-chiu who died in early July after being forced to perform a vigorous regime of calisthenics in sweltering heat. The death of the 24-year-old soldier has set off a wave of anger in the country, undermining Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou's already low popularity and raising hard questions about the future of the island's military. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Sheryn Lee, U Penn

On 4 July 2013, Taiwanese army corporal Hung Chung-chiu died from multiple organ failure after being forced to undergo solitary confinement and consecutive days of drill exercises in a military detention centre.

His death, coming just two days before his scheduled discharge from Taiwan’s one-year compulsory military service, has underscored Taiwan’s worsening socio-economic situation, and its deteriorating ability to defend the Taiwan Strait. Read more…

Taiwan offers a model for advancing human rights

A woman raises a placard asking President Ma Ying-jeou Do You Hear Your People?, during a protest in Taipei, Tawian, 03 August 2013. Tens of thousands of Taiwanese people took part in the rally, demanding the military probe the death of army sergeant Hung Chung-chiu who is suspected to have died from corporal punishment on 03 July 2013. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Daniel Severson, Harvard University

Taiwan has come a long way since it emerged from martial law just a quarter century ago. Back then, the struggle for basic rights, including freedom of assembly, speech, and the press, remained fierce. In 1989, democracy activist Cheng Nan-jung famously set himself on fire to protest restrictions on freedom of expression. Read more…

Taiwan: fishing for a fishery agreement with the Philippines

Filipino protesters wearing fish masks march with placards in front of the Philippine flag during a rally outside the Chinese Consular office in Makati City, south of Manila, Philippines, 11 June 2013 (Photo: AAP).

Author: Lucio Blanco Pitlo III, University of the Philippines Asian Center

Manila and Taipei are presently locked in a maritime row after an incident on 9 May in which Philippine maritime authorities shot and killed a Taiwanese fisherman in waters belonging to northern Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone.

Responding to intense public pressure, Taipei has demanded an official apology, compensation for the victim’s family, a speedy inquiry on the incident and talks on a fishery agreement. Read more…

Taiwan’s strategic confusion

Taiwan US Trade

Author: Wen-Ti Sung, ANU

Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou’s mantra of ‘no unification, no independence, and no use of force’ is coming under increasing strain.

This pressure is due to a number of factors — Washington’s benign neglect of Taiwan, Beijing’s ever-stronger leverage over Taipei, and Taiwan’s own strategic confusion. Read more…