Continuing its longstanding tradition of informal diplomacy, Taiwan has in the past few years been increasingly focusing on think tanks and forums as a means to expand relationships with countries in Southeast Asia and Europe.
Caught in a unique geopolitical situation, the nation has long relied on informal and semi-informal channels to communicate with like-minded nations.
This has often involved think tanks, which hold forums with their foreign counterparts on critical issues such as regional security, health and innovation.
In addition to those set up under the direction of government ministries, such as the Institute for National Defense and Security Research (INDSR), there are also private organizations, including the Institute for National Policy Research (INPR).
A prime example is the Taiwan-US-Japan Trilateral Indo-Pacific Security Dialogue, which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has since 2011 organized through think tanks at home and abroad.
The dialogue has drawn participation from US think tanks such as the Center for a New American Security, the Heritage Foundation and the Project 2049 Institute, as well as Japanese groups the Institute for International Policy Studies and Japan Institute of International Affairs.
On Taiwan’s side, the Prospect Foundation, Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research and other organizations have participated in the event, which is designed to create a venue for in-person trilateral communication on security issues, and goes on to influence legislative decisions.
The Ketagalan Forum similarly seeks to create a platform for regional security discussions.
Organized annually by the ministry and local think tanks since 2017, the forum gathers officials, academics and experts to discuss threats and changing dynamics in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as to forge bonds with like-minded nations for the sake of continued peace and prosperity.
Topics on the agenda have included maritime security, public health and economic security, while speakers have included former US vice president Dick Cheney and former Australian minister for defence Christopher Pyne.
Meanwhile, the Yushan Forum was founded in 2017 as a platform for dialogue with Taiwan’s neighbors on innovation and progress.
Aside from the usual experts, the Taiwan-Asia Exchange Foundation, which organizes the forum, also invites young leaders, innovators and other notable figures to share their views.
The third edition of the forum in 2019 brought together representatives from more than 30 countries, including former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper and Japanese Representative Keiji Furuya.
The foundation is itself an example of the nation’s change in foreign policy focus, as the policy-oriented think tank since its founding in 2018 has striven to promote cooperation with New Southbound Policy countries through think tanks, non-governmental organizations and young leaders.
The INDSR was also established in 2018 as the nation’s top military think tank.
Aside from putting together a number of publications and reports, it also aims to facilitate communication with other nations on traditional and nontraditional security challenges. This has resulted in events held in conjunction with US think tank RAND Corp on the New Southbound Policy, as well as with the Central European Institute of Asian Studies.
Coming from the private sector, the Chang Yung-fa Foundation in 1989 established the INPR, which has been promoting exchanges with think tanks in Europe, Japan and the US through an array of forums and events.
This includes the annual Asia and Pacific Security Forum held in collaboration with the US Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Philippine Institute for Strategic and Development Studies and the Asia Centre from France, as well as the Taipei-Tokyo Strategic Dialogue held since 2014.
Also of note is the group’s annual Asia-Pacific Think Tank Summit, to which it invites leaders of think tanks from nearly 20 countries to discuss developmental and other issues of importance to the region.
OVERHAUL NEEDED: The government should improve its agricultural processing capabilities and expand to new markets to limit its reliance on China, an expert said China’s ban on Taiwanese pineapples was “unsurprising,” and Taiwan should have years ago altered its produce export strategies and target customers, experts said. China on Friday abruptly suspended imports of pineapples from Taiwan, saying that it had on multiple occasions discovered “harmful biological entities” on the fruit. Calling it an “unfriendly” move, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said that 99.79 percent of the pineapples sent to China since last year have met China’s import standards. Chiao Chun (焦鈞), the author of Fruits and Politics — A Recollection of Cross-strait Agricultural Interaction Over the Past Decade (水果政治學：兩岸農業交流十年回顧與展望), said that China’s announcement is clearly targeting
‘NOT COLD ENOUGH’: Schools are disregarding Premier Su Tseng-chang’s instruction that students may wear out-of-uniform clothing to stay warm, an association said An investigative report revealed that 72.5 percent of the nation’s senior-high schools and 95.6 percent of junior-high schools punish students for wearing unapproved winter clothes in contravention of educational guidelines, lawmakers and student rights advocates said yesterday. Speaking at a news conference at the Legislative Yuan, the Taiwan Youth Association for Democracy said there is an endemic disregard for the Ministry of Education’s regulations and that private schools are more likely to contravene ministry rules. The report is a compilation of 2,856 student reports about dress code reinforcement at 425 high schools and vocational high schools, the association said. Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌)
DISSATISFACTION? If the referendums collect more than 700,000 signatures each, they would have gotten the most signatures in the shortest time, the party said The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) two referendum petitions — one on banning the importation of pork with traces of ractopamine and the other on holding referendums on the same day as national elections — had as of Thursday gathered 691,398 and 674,497 signatures respectively, the party said yesterday. If the petitions collect more than 700,000 signatures apiece, they would have garnered the most signatures in the shortest time since the Referendum Act (公民投票法) was amended in 2017, party officials said. The KMT proposed the “anti-ractopamine pork” or “food safety” referendum just days after President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) announcement on Aug. 28 last
DECADES OF INFLUENCE: Over the past 20 years, China has made inroads with Aborigines, funding political campaigns and trips, a legislator said Lawmakers have called on the National Security Bureau to investigate claims of pervasive Chinese influence among Aboriginal communities. Legislators pointed to a surge in communist propaganda and Chinese-funded projects over the past few years, which they say are aimed at infiltrating and buying political influence among Aboriginal communities. “China has for decades carried out wide-ranging ‘united front’ tactics and propaganda campaigns targeting Aborigines,” said Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ying (陳瑩), a member of the Puyuma community in Taitung County. “Now, they are influencing elections for local councilors and village chiefs, offering money for candidates to mount their campaigns, and to