In Taiwanese politics, the DPP is taking over the KMT’s stable narrative niche

Now that the DPP’s Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has begun her second term as President of Taiwan and her defeated KMT opponent Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) has successfully been recalled as Mayor of Kaohsiung, it is useful to look at the changes in the Taiwanese political landscape in recent times. Six years after the Sunflower Movement protests […]

The year of Taiwan’s separation from China is 1895, not 1949

Apart from the incorrect ‘breakaway province’ cliché, another favourite of the press when writing on Taiwan is to mention that the island was separated from China in 1949, at the end of the Chinese Civil War. In this piece I argue that this is wrong. Taiwan was separated from China in 1895, when the Treaty […]

Timeline of the Covid-19 outbreak

This is my timeline of the outbreak of a novel coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2 that first appeared in Wuhan, China and led to a global Covid-19 pandemic. Besides the events in China, it may be also somewhat slanted to places I take a professional and personal interest in, mostly Singapore, Taiwan, and the Netherlands. Among […]

Stop comparing countries’ Covid-19 numbers!

As the Covid-19 pandemic rages around the world, we should not let our desire for clear hard numbers blind us for the pitfalls of public health statistics. The havoc caused by SARS-CoV-2 is increasing every day since its terror began in Wuhan, China. Understandably, the public wants something to chart this novel coronavirus’ terrifying progress […]

The China Model for the world: the real revisionism is trying to stop the ‘inevitable historical trend’, according to Beijing

Earlier in 2019, Jessica Chen Weiss wrote a well-considered article for Foreign Affairs in which she argues that China does not seek to export authoritarianism, but merely wants to make the world safer for itself. There is indeed no National Endowment for Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, nor has Beijing set up a Peaceful Co-existence Radio […]

Bekijk Taiwan niet steeds door een Chinese lens: vier misverstanden voor de komende verkiezingen

Op 11 januari zijn er in Taiwan verkiezingen voor de president en voor het parlement, de Wetgevende Yuan. In de korte geschiedenis van deze jonge democratie zijn dit de meest cruciale verkiezingen tot nu toe. Kiest de bevolking voor weerstand bieden aan Peking of voor langzame integratie? Het eiland komt meestal in het nieuws in […]

Summarising Zhao Dingxin’s lessons from 1989 for the Hong Kong protests: protest ecology and conflicting state legitimation

Talking about the on-going protests in Hong Kong, pundits love to invoke the 1989 Movement that famously centred around Tiananmen Square in Beijing. I myself have previously argued that it might be more useful to compare the overall effect on Hong Kong of the ‘Hard Had Revolution’ to the effect that the February 28 Incident […]

Hong Kong shows that ‘communism’ is the most efficient creator of alienation

As Hong Kong is gripped in chaos and violence, there is something interesting about the ‘strongly condemn’ statements that Hong Kong SAR Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor (林鄭月娥) puts out at her rare press conferences. Completely in line with the rules prevalent on the Mainland, the first thing she condemns is always the harm […]

The Hard Hat Revolution will not be Hong Kong’s Tiananmen Square, it might be its February 28 Incident

Tension had been building for a long time. The former colonial power had returned the island to China a while ago already, but rather than act as happy patriots, the local inhabitants were increasingly chafing under what they saw as a breakdown in orderly government, encroachment on their economic opportunities, and discrimination against locals in […]

Party Not Required: nationalism’s long-term threat to the Chinese Communist Party

Xi Jinping’s well-documented attempts to become ‘chairman of everything’—as several observers have argued before me—are in fact a testament to his need to shore up weak central power. The Chinese party-state works through broad project campaigns, launched through the apparatus of party committees and propaganda organs. Local leaders take the cue to come up with […]