tirsdag 14. januar 2020

Taiwan Is the Last Free Place in the Chinese-Speaking World. Can President Tsai Ing-wen Preserve Its Democracy?

In the early 1980s, a young Taiwanese student newly enrolled at the London School of Economics heard a knock at her dormitory door. A pair of bedraggled British students were there to ask Tsai Ing-wen if she wanted to subscribe to a newspaper. In the spirit of collegiality, she readily agreed. “It was only later that I discovered it was a communist newspaper,” she tells TIME, laughing. “I eventually told them to keep my check but just stop sending the newspaper.”

More than 30 years later, Taiwan’s political leader is still fending off unwelcome leftist overtures. Elected President of the self-governing island of 23 million in 2016, Tsai set out to steer it further from China’s orbit. Taiwan has its own military, its own passport and the world’s 21st largest economy. But ever since 1949, when Mao Zedong’s forces ended a civil war by chasing the Nationalists to the island 100 miles (160 km) off the mainland, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has considered it a renegade province that must be reunited with China, by force if necessary. Through most of the Cold War, the capitalist enclave was shielded by the West. But in a world China now aims to lead after embracing market forces, Taiwan’s position has grown only more vulnerable.