In January 2016, voters in Taiwan elected Tsai Ing-wen—the second president from the Democratic Progressive Party and Taiwan’s first woman president—and for the first time gave the DPP a majority in Taiwan’s legislature. Tsai came to office in May 2016 with an ambitious agenda of economic revitalization, social and economic justice, stability in cross-Strait relations and progress in relations with the U.S., Japan and others. Issues such as same-sex marriage, pension reform for employees of state institutions, and transitional justice (to address issues from the period of Kuomintang authoritarian rule before Taiwan’s democratization) were among the controversial issues facing the DPP-led government. New pressures from Beijing to squeeze Taiwan’s international space (which limited Taiwan’s participation in UN-affiliated international organizations and reduced Taiwan’s number of diplomatic partners), uncertainty about U.S. policy under Donald Trump, and challenging prospects for Taiwan’s greater access to a liberal international trade and investment regime (especially with U.S. opting out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership) made for a challenging environment in external relations as well.
Local elections will be held in November 2018. Four years ago, sweeping losses by the then-ruling Kuomintang Party portended the DPP’s victory in 2016. This year’s vote for city and county level officials will again be closely watched as a possible harbinger of Tsai’s and DPP’s prospects for retaining the presidency and the national legislature in 2020.
The Foreign Policy Research Institute will hold a panel discussion to assess these and other issues in Taiwan politics and external relations, featuring:
Peter C.Y. Chow is a Professor of Economics and Business at the City University of New York. Prior to his appointment at the City University of New York, he was on the faculty at the Berry College in Georgia (1976-1983), and Southeastern Louisiana University (1983-86). He was a visiting research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and University of California at Berkeley, a visiting scholar at the Institute of Social Science and Philosophy in Academia Sinica in Taiwan, and a visiting professor at the National Taiwan University in Taiwan and Nagoya National University in Japan. Chow specializes in trade and development, with special interests in comparative development in latecomers to industrialization in the Asia-Pacific region. He is the author of Growth and Stability in a Small Open Economy, Trade: The Engine of Growth in East Asia, and Social Expenditures in Taiwan as well as numerous book chapters and journal articles.
June Teufel Dreyer is a Senior Fellow in FPRI’s Asia Program as well as a member of the Orbis Board of Editors. She is Professor of Political Science at the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida. Formerly senior Far East Specialist at the Library of Congress, she has also served as Asia policy advisor to the Chief of Naval Operations and as commissioner of the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission established by the U.S. Congress. Her latest book is Middle Kingdom and Empire of the Rising Sun: Sino-Japanese Relations, Past and Present.
Shelley Rigger, Senior Fellow with FPRI’s Asia Program, is the Brown Professor of East Asian Politics at Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina. She has a PhD in Government from Harvard University and a BA in Public and International Affairs from Princeton University. She has been a visiting researcher at National Chengchi University in Taiwan (2005) and a visiting professor at Fudan University in Shanghai (2006). Rigger is the author of two books on Taiwan’s domestic politics: Politics in Taiwan: Voting for Democracy (Routledge 1999) and From Opposition to Power: Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (Lynne Rienner Publishers 2001), as well as Why Taiwan Matters (Rowman & Littlefield, 2011).
Jacques deLisle is Director of FPRI’s Asia Program, Stephen A. Cozen Professor of Law, Professor of Political Science, Director of the Center for East Asian Studies and Deputy Directory of the Center for the Study of Contemporary China at the University of Pennsylvania. He specializes in Chinese politics and legal reform, U.S-China relations, cross-strait relations, and China’s engagement with the international legal order. He has numerous publications in FPRI’s journal Orbis, and regularly publishes commentaries on Asian affairs as FPRI E-notes and in other media. His articles also have appeared in Journal of Contemporary China, Asia Policy, University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Economic Law, American Society of International Law Proceedings, among others. He is the co-editor of China’s Global Engagement, New Media, the Internet and a Changing China, Political Changes in Taiwan under Ma Ying-jeou and China’s Challenges.