As transitional justice in Taiwan progresses, as statues of dictators are removed and monuments to their oppressive rule renamed, there is a whole other area of name rectification to be considered.
Having the historical distinction of being the former colony of more than one nation, Taiwan has inherited a difficulty in the naming of formal administrative divisions of national and local government.
During the time of the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) military dictatorship, Taiwan had the burden of a provincial and national government governing the same territory -- functions and positions duplicated -- to project the fiction that the KMT governed all of China.
Now that Taiwan's "provincial government" has been removed, we have the strange situation in which there is a national government and then cities and designated "counties," which are by definition subdivisions of a non-existent regional government.
As with the name "Republic of China," the current names of administrative regions tend to confuse foreign countries.
Cities can readily make commercial and cultural agreements with other cities around the world and have done so.
But should Ilan County make an agreement with a US county (with populations sometimes smaller than Taiwanese townships) or a US state? Taiwan's counties, though not wholly analogous, are closer on the spectrum to the latter division.
In the US there are national, state and local tiers of government. The absence of the intermediate level in Taiwan would tend to make foreigners think that the national government is itself intermediate; that is, the province or confederated state of some "Greater China."
To address this problem while on the campaign trail last year, Vice President Annette Lu (
But with Taiwan's size, all of this still seems to add an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy.
And the arbitrary addition of provinces in name only, which seem too small compared with those of other countries, would give the impression that Taiwan was "pretending" to have provinces, just like in the past the KMT regime "pretended" to govern China and "pretended" that Taiwan was just a province.
Besides, in the context of Taiwanese history, the idea of a province is just too reminiscent of the Chinese empire and colonialism in general.
Here is one alternate proposal: Taiwan should model its structure on Switzerland.
Change the "county" designation to "canton." In explanation, have books make the comparison thus: "Like Switzerland, Taiwan is made up of regional administrative divisions called cantons."
That one short phrase, "like Switzerland," could make a huge stride forward in how the world perceives Taiwan.
Like Switzerland, Taiwan is multilingual. Like Switzerland, Taiwan has had to maintain itself against aggressive and larger neighbors over the centuries.
Like Taiwan, Switzerland had to face a time of de facto independence from a large empire (beginning in 1499 from the Holy Roman Empire). Switzerland was finally recognized by other countries as independent in 1648 in the Treaty of Westphalia. Hopefully, unlike Switzerland, Taiwan will not have to wait that long.
Like the Swiss, Taiwanese would like nothing more than to be neutral, at peace with their neighbors and respected as a sovereign nation.
But whereas Switzerland is a host to the UN, the UN has refused to play host to Taiwan. This, too, needs to be rectified.
In November last year, a man struck a woman with a steel bar and killed her outside a hospital in China’s Fujian Province. Later, he justified his actions to the police by saying that he attacked her because she was small and alone, and he was venting his anger after a dispute with a colleague. To the casual observer, it could be seen as another case of an angry man gone mad for a moment, but on closer inspection, it reflects the sad side of a society long brutalized by violent political struggles triggered by crude Leninism and Maoism. Starting
If social media interaction is any yardstick, India remained one of the top countries for Taiwan last year. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has on several occasions expressed enthusiasm to strengthen cooperation with India, one of the 18 target nations in her administration’s New Southbound Policy. The past year was instrumental in fostering Taiwan-India ties and will be remembered for accelerated momentum in bilateral relations. However, most of it has been confined to civil society circles. Even though Taiwan launched its southbound policy in 2016, the potential of Taiwan-India engagement remains underutilized. It is crucial to identify what is obstructing greater momentum
In terms of the economic outlook for the semiconductor industry, Taiwan has outperformed the rest of the world for three consecutive years. This is quite rare. In addition, Taiwan has been playing an important role in the US-China technology dispute, and both want Taiwan on their side, reflecting the remaking of the nation’s semiconductor industry. Under the leadership of — above all — Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), the industry as a whole has shifted from a focus on capacity to a focus on quality, as companies now have to be able to provide integration of hardware and software, as well as
US President Joe Biden’s foreign policy on China and the Indo-Pacific region will have huge repercussions for Taiwan. The US Department of State in the final weeks of former US president Donald Trump’s term took several actions clearly aimed to push Biden’s foreign policy to build on Trump’s achievements. Former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo’s announcement on the final day of the Trump administration that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was committing “genocide and crimes against humanity” in Xinjiang was welcome, but comes far too late. The recent dropping of “self-imposed” restrictions on meetings between Taiwanese and US officials was