Over the last dozen years, Taiwan’s democracy has deepened in important ways. Executive power has rotated twice, from the DPP’s Chen Shui-bian to the KMT’s Ma Ying-jeou in 2008, and from Ma to the DPP’s Tsai Ing-wen in 2016. The majority in the legislature also changed for the first time in 2016, from the KMT to the DPP. Taiwan’s most recent overall Freedom House ranking is 93/100, significantly higher than the United States. Its freedom of the press ranking is the highest in all of Asia, ahead of Korea and even Japan, and its rule of law and anti-corruption scores are trending in a positive direction as well.
To be sure, serious concerns remain about the practice of democracy in Taiwan, including a poorly institutionalized and often chaotic lawmaking process, incomplete legislative oversight of executive branch actions, and a partisan and increasingly fragmented media environment. Nevertheless, the greatest threat to Taiwan’s continued place among the world’s liberal democracies now appears to be external, not internal. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has always posed an existential threat to Taiwan, but its growing economic influence, rapid military modernization, assertive territorial claims in the region, and aggressive global efforts to isolate Taiwan have accelerated in recent years. Put simply, Taiwan’s long-term future as a democracy is imperiled by China’s rise.
The PRC’s growing power presents difficult security challenges for most of the countries in the Asia-Pacific region, not just for Taiwan. But these challenges are rarely considered from a multi-lateral perspective—most analyses of regional security issues instead tend to focus on bilateral or trilateral (US-China-Country X) relationships. This pattern is particularly common in discussions of Taiwan’s security, where the dominant focus is on Cross-Strait and US-Taiwan relations to the neglect of Taiwan’s other relationships in the region.
The goals of this workshop, then, are to place Taiwan’s security challenges in a broader, regional context, to consider possible obstacles to and opportunities for greater regional cooperation on security issues, and to devise a set of recommendations for Taiwan and its partners and allies. Workshop participants will include experts on a wide array of economic, diplomatic, and security topics from Taiwan, the United States, and elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region.
More details on speakers and agenda to be added soon.