Taiwan has no asylum law and accepts no asylum applicants on this basis. This would be problematic enough were it not for the fact that government officials and bureaucrats traditionally used this absence to explain away their responsibility to human rights protection instead of doing something about it.
The Cabinet has finally approved a bill that would allow foreigners or stateless people to apply for asylum under circumstances including persecution and war. It is unlikely that the bill will become law in its current form; the scope for applications seems rather large and the definition of persecution rather fuzzy, but one way or another it is a positive development.
This bill follows on from the government’s codifying of two UN covenants on civil and political rights and economic social and cultural rights, and as such is a welcome example of the government delivering something practical and apparently enforceable in regard to the protection of human rights of not just Taiwanese, but anyone else who may have contact with Taiwan and its legal processes.
Human rights and democracy: these concepts extend to all people. But even today in Taiwan, so often they remain self-congratulatory slogans, not instruments of change and social nourishment. So often legislators on both sides of politics mouth platitudes in the direction of these concepts while failing to act in the defense of the persecuted on their doorstep.
The irony is that Taiwan has historically been a shelter for huge numbers of economic and political refugees from China. Soon, it appears, this role of sanctuary can finally extend to people of all nations.
The active pursuit of a balanced and sensible asylum system would help to wash the dirt off the hands of the Republic of China for its support for some of the world’s most odious and repressive regimes in the second half of the 20th century — many of which gave rise to refugee populations themselves.
The World Anti-Communist League, founded by dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) soon after the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) fled to Taiwan, was an organization of its era, to be sure, but it was no less repugnant for its sinister activities, criminal links and corrosive influence on some of the most miserable nations in the Third World, socialist or otherwise.
For some, it will be astonishing to learn that this organization still exists, admittedly emasculated and mellowed, as the World League for Freedom and Democracy, which has ongoing ties to the KMT and almost every arm of government, including moral support from President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and other senior government and KMT officials.
Watching how the league, with its support for the Contras in Nicaragua and even nastier activities and connections besides, is able to jump through hoops these days accounting for the pro-Beijing activities of the KMT makes for entertaining sport.
The problem is this: Amid alleged attempts last year to interfere with the membership of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, this government and the KMT continued to fete the World League for Freedom and Democracy and its ludicrous legacy. The league stands for principles that are incompatible with liberty and the kind of sensitivity and intelligence that promotes democracy and freedom.
As with so much new legislation, the devil is not just in the detail, but in the very motivations of those who change the detail in its passage to law. The fate of asylum seekers and stateless people in Taiwan may be a small issue for most lawmakers, but as an index of the government’s commitment to human rights amid painful revisionism on the KMT’s record of activities, it should prove most valuable.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its People’s Liberation Army (PLA) use their bi-annual Zhuhai Airshow to attack Taiwan on two levels. The first level became apparent to this observer after attending the first two airshows in 1996 and 1998: Why would the CCP allow Zhuhai leaders to build a second large international airport a mere 26 kilometers from the far busier Macau International Airport, with Zhuhai only cycling about ten flights a day? Zhuhai city fathers were not guilty of some corrupt “boondoggle,” they had clearly convinced the PLA to bless their city with a massive reserve airport to support future
The White House went into damage control mode after US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley suggested that there is no military solution to the Russia-Ukraine conflict and diplomacy is needed to end it: The official US position is that Ukraine itself should set the terms of the peace and decide when, if ever, it is ready to talk. Yet after Tuesday’s incident with two missiles landing in Polish territory after a massive Russian strike on Ukrainian power stations, it should be clear why Milley appeared to swim against the US policy tide. The danger of accidental escalation, or world
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday last week met with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) at an APEC summit in Thailand. The meeting made front-page news in Japan the following day. Three years ago, when then-Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe visited Beijing to meet with Xi, no one questioned Abe’s attitude toward China, as the conservative parties in Japan had been spearheaded by Abe. However, Kishida could easily be labeled as pro-China, as he hails from Hiroshima — a place known for its anti-war, anti-nuclear movements — and was once the director of the Japan-China Friendship Association of Hiroshima.
Superman’s latest flight took him halfway across the world. After an uncertain free agency, superstar former NBA center Dwight Howard finally and surprisingly settled on Taiwan’s T1 League, where the Taoyuan Leopards have welcomed him with open arms and plenty of photographs. In the two weeks since the team announced their latest addition, Taiwanese media and fans have barely been able to contain their excitement. A livestreamed video of Howard visiting a Taoyuan night market and trying chicken butt on a stick (“This is some good-ass chicken!”) not only got thousands of views and extensive media coverage in Taiwan, but