It was announced without fanfare on Friday and few acknowledged its importance, but the decision by the Ministry of the Interior to allow the registration of previously banned political organizations was another step toward becoming a normal, moderate and mature democracy.
What the decision means is that the country’s polity has become confident enough to accommodate a multiplicity of political views, rather than smother non-prevailing voices that could make life uncomfortable for those in power.
The banning of one political organization in particular — the Taiwan Democratic Communist Party (TDCP) — had long become an anachronism, not because the Cold War is over, but, as historian Tony Judt puts it, because Marxism and communism have no intellectual or political future. The fall of the Soviet Union forever discredited the concept of communism and the countries that still practice it — such as North Korea and to a diminishing extent Vietnam and Cuba — certainly do not add to its appeal.
Skeptics who argue that the TDCP could serve as a fifth column should be reminded that — like every other political organization in this country — it is the product of a long process of localization and could not conceivably be part of an underhanded Beijing plot, let alone a global front along the lines of the Comintern. Anyone visiting China these days quickly realizes the country is now only nominally communist and, despite the official rhetoric, shares very little with its ideological past.
What still has some popular appeal, however, are the foundations of Marxism, such as combating poverty and inequality.
Judt, in his review of the Polish philosopher and Marxist Leszek Kolakowski, says that “renewed faith in Marxism — at least as an analytical tool if not as a political prognostication — is now once again, largely for want of competition, the common currency of international protest movements.”
What this means is that at best the TDCP would use Marxist rhetoric to address social problems. But anything that departed from that, anything that resembled a political system, would crumble under the weight of the political burden of anything associated with “communist” or “communism.” A party like the TDCP will never represent a threat to the stability of the state and as such, its existence as a social entity no longer needs to be disallowed, as doing so would represent disproportionate intervention by the state.
The ministry’s decision was, among other things, made possible by the normalization of the country and its security apparatus, which now serves the state rather than a specific political party. This transformation, begun in the 1990s but for the most part springing from the reforms of the Democratic Progressive Party government, has given Taiwan the surefootedness it needs to allow for political pluralism, even when this means permitting the registration of parties whose names are echoes of an old ideological conflict.
Friday’s announcement may have gone unnoticed, but it should be celebrated as yet another achievement by Taiwanese, who are choosing inclusiveness and pluralism over the kind of repression that, sadly, is prevalent in the region and elsewhere.
The US intelligence community’s annual threat assessment for this year certainly cannot be faulted for having a narrow focus or Pollyanna perspective. From a rising China, Russian aggression and Iran’s nuclear ambitions, to climate change, future pandemics and the growing reach of international organized crime, US intelligence analysis is as comprehensive as it is worrying. Inaugurated two decades ago as a gesture of transparency and to inform the public and the US Congress, the annual threat assessment offers the intelligence agencies’ top-line conclusions about the country’s leading national-security threats — although always in ways that do not compromise “sources and methods.”
Let’s begin with the bottom line. The sad truth of the matter is that Beijing has trampled on its solemn pledge to grant Hong Kong a great deal of autonomy for at least fifty years. In so doing, the PRC ignored a promise Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) made to both Great Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the wider world back in the early 1980s. This was at a time when Beijing, under Deng and his successors, appeared to be seeking an equitable accommodation with the West. I remain puzzled by China’s recent policy shift. Was it because Hong Kong was perceived
The recent meeting in New Delhi between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov — the first such high-level interaction since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine — suggests that diplomacy might no longer be a dirty word. The 10 minute meeting on the sidelines of the G20 gathering occurred after US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan reportedly urged Ukraine to show Russia that it is open to negotiating an end to the war. Together, these developments offer a glimmer of hope that a ceasefire is within the realm of the possible. The
French police have confirmed that China’s overseas “police service stations” were behind cyberattacks against a Taiwanese Mandarin Learning Center in the European nation. This is another example of Beijing bullying Taiwanese organizations, as well as a show of contempt for other countries’ sovereignty and for international laws and norms. L’Encrier Chinois, a Chinese-language school that opened in 2005 in Paris, became the second Taiwanese Mandarin Learning Center in France in 2021. The school was targeted by at least three cyberattacks last year, which were reported to French police, who discovered that the attacks originated from China’s overseas police stations. Overseas