Taiwan on the International Stage, But How?

Taiwan on the International Stage, But How?
Tamsui River and Taipei. Photo Credit: Alex Nien-Yi Ho/Ketagalan Media

By Hilton Yip/Ketagalan Media

The 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections in Taiwan are finally over, and it had been nothing short of a spectacle. But as much as mainstream media outlets around the world such as the Economist report on the event, it ultimately was an internal affair, a decision cast by the Taiwanese voters themselves about their own matters.

Just a few months ago, two events occurred that deserve some more reflection, because they speak to how Taiwan should reexamine its relationship with the rest of the world.

First, the meeting between Taiwan’s president Ma Ying-jeou and Chinese president Xi Jin-ping in November last year was supposedly a momentous event, leading to some sort of a breakthrough in Taiwan-China relations. But the meeting produced no relaxation of China’s stance on Taiwan. Instead, Xi tried to reaffirm China’s claim to Taiwan by proclaiming that China and Taiwan were the same “family” and should cooperate to rejuvenate the “Chinese nation.” In Xi’s mind, the message was clear – Taiwan is part of China.

China denies Taiwan’s status as a country and continuously restricts Taiwan’s international space. The specter of the neighbor across the strait looms large in almost everything from international trade deals to multilateral institutions to even beauty contests. Of course, the apology that Taiwanese pop star Tzuyu, a member of Korea’s girl band Twice, issued online further drove home the point that China will throw its weight around to bully even 16 year old girls into ending her career.

China’s influence and interference may always be upon Taiwan, but China is losing out in trying to subvert Taiwan’s identity and the world is gradually coming to understand this. The Sunflower Revolution movement, the Ma-Xi meeting and the 2016 national elections have attracted significant media coverage that highlight the fact that unification with China is not something the majority of Taiwanese want.

The News Lens international edition has been authorized to repost this article. The full piece is published on Ketagalan Media here: Taiwan on the International Stage, But How?

First Editor: Olivia Yang
Second Editor: Eric Tsai