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Taiwan Tati Cultural and Educational Foundation

Miles Yu On Taiwan: The meaning of Taiwan

The world has radically changed in the last half decade. Tired consensuses are being questioned and discarded. Global dialogues on international security issues are growing more urgent. Democratic nations are recognizing the challenges they face. And the most profound transformation has to do with how free societies understand the threat posed by one entity: the Chinese Communist Party.

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Bullying Lithuania can only fail

State-owned Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp on Monday announced that it had purchased a shipment of 20,000 bottles of Lithuanian-produced dark rum. Originally destined for China, Beijing blocked the consignment as part of its campaign to punish Lithuania for allowing Taiwan to open a de facto embassy in its capital, Vilnius, on Nov. 18 last year.

Beijing had already retaliated by recalling its ambassador to Lithuania, downgrading diplomatic ties with the country, ordering Chinese businesses to enforce an embargo on Lithuanian goods, and threatening multinational corporations to do the same or risk being locked out of the Chinese market.

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Ko should talk less and do more

Seven years ago, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), at the time a political neophyte with no party affiliation, was swept into Taipei City Hall with 57 percent of the vote.

Four years later, he secured a second term, but this time his share of the vote had dropped to 41 percent, with 270,000 fewer Taipei residents voting for him.

Seven years have passed, and his time in city hall has entered its final year. Despite his voter satisfaction ratings being low in polls, he was still brimming with self-confidence at a news conference on Dec. 24 last year to mark the completion of his seventh year, saying that when his final year was over he would have finished an impressive tenure as mayor, “because we have done such a lot.”

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Youth standing up for democracy

A legislative by-election in Taichung’s second electoral district and a legislative recall vote in Taipei’s Zhongzheng and (中正) and Wanhua (萬華) electoral districts are to be held on Sunday. These votes are widely expected to be a test of strength between conventional forms of mobilization on the one hand and winning young people’s approval on the other.

As Taiwanese democracy continues to deepen, the younger generation has become increasingly involved in politics. Young people have become more independent in how they judge the current state of the nation and how they imagine its future.

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Agriculture key to Lithuania ties

Lithuania, arguably one of the most vocal supporters of Taiwan in Europe, remains a target of Chinese tools of negative economic statecraft. In retaliation for the Baltic nation allowing Taiwan to open a representative office in its capital, China deleted Lithuania from its customs registry and has allegedly instigated a corporate boycott, instructing multinationals to sever ties with the country.

Given that cereals constitute the largest export product of Lithuania to China, farmers and food producers have been hit particularly hard through the ongoing spat.

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The problem with referendums

By now most people will have at least absorbed the basic results of the Dec. 18 referendums. There is bound to be a continued and heated debate as to what they mean and how they will affect politics in the new year and well beyond. Whatever the questions, referendums always suffer from an absence of useful and reliable knowledge.

The bigger the issue, the greater the importance of good information and understanding, but there is less likelihood of voters obtaining such knowledge. This might explain the low turnout. Only 3.7 million people voted in favor of the questions, with 4.1 million voters deciding against the proposals.

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Newsflash


The Reichstag, which houses the Bundestag, is pictured in Berlin on Wednesday.
Photo: Reuters

The German Bundestag has passed a resolution calling on the government to reassess its Taiwan policy and deepen exchanges with Taipei, but ruled out the possibility of establishing diplomatic relations with Taiwan.