English Web site on Taiwan to tap global audience

THOUGHT-PROVOKING::With foreign correspondents exiting the country, Tsai Ing-wen has created an English Web site to write about the Taiwan issues that matter

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Wed, May 07, 2014 - Page 3

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday announced the official launch of an English-language opinion and analysis Web site about Taiwan with the aim of sharing perspectives on a wide range of issues.

The Web site, Thinking Taiwan, intends to show diverse perspectives on various issues — beyond political and economic issues that usually dominate international headlines about Taiwan — to an international audience, Tsai said during the site’s launch ceremony.

Tsai said that offering critical and thought-provoking perspectives on the nation is hugely important at a time when foreign news bureaus have either closed or pulled correspondents out of the nation due to a deteriorating media environment or because Taiwan “is no longer an interesting topic.”

The Web site is to cover politics and defense, topics the international audience takes most interest in, but is also to devote significant attention to society and culture, said the Web site’s editor-in-chief Jean Michael Cole, a former Taipei Times journalist.

Although the site is listed under Tsai’s Thinking Taiwan Foundation, it would try to bring neutral and impartial views and to “strike a balance” with its content so that it would appeal to academics as well as ordinary readers, Cole said.

Currently among the guest writers are Jerome Cohen, a professor of law at New York University School of Law, Mark Stokes, executive director of the US-based think tank Project 2049 Institute, and Stephane Corcuff at the French Centre for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC).

In his introductory column on the Web site, Cohen said that Taiwan has been an underreported topic in US and Western media.

Taiwan’s status would likely soon “become the most dangerous issue dividing the two most important nuclear powers, the US and China,” given that the concerns that have been quietly growing on both sides of the Taiwan Strait about their future relationship was accelerated by the recent Sunflower movement, Cohen wrote.

The Web site is the second opinion and analysis products presented by Tsai’s foundation, following the establishment of the Chinese-language site Thinking Taiwan in August 2012.

More than 1,900 articles penned by more than 600 writers, of whom 80 percent are younger than 40, have been published on the Chinese version of Thinking Taiwan, and 60 percent of its readership came from the 35-and-under age group, foundation executive director Lin Chuan (林全) said.

While Tsai said that the English-language Web site has “nothing to do with elections,” reaching out to an international audience could benefit her campaign by fostering better mutual communication and understanding, if she wins the DPP’s presidential nomination next year.

An article published in the London-based Financial Times during the presidential campaign in 2011, which hinted that Washington had no confidence about Tsai’s ability to manage the cross-strait relationship and about her China policy, dealt a devastating blow to Tsai’s campaign, according to the DPP’s post-election review.

The Web site can be found at thinking-taiwan.com.