The World This Week

Photo Source: South China Morning Post
   NIAS Course on Global Politics
National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS)
Indian Institute of Science Campus, Bangalore
For any further information or to subscribe to GP alerts send an email to subachandran@nias.res.in

The World This Week
The Taiwanese local elections and the legacies of Jiang Zemin

  GP Team

TWTW#192, 04 December 2022, Vol. 4, No. 41

Avishka Ashok and Teshu Singh


Taiwan: Local elections present unanticipated outcomes 

What happened?
On 27 November, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson referred to the local elections in Taiwan and remarked that the island desires peace, stability and a better life after the Kuomintang Party (KMT) made a comeback in the national politics.
 
Chiang Kai-shek’s great-grandson Chiang Wan-an won the elections to become the youngest mayor of Taipei at the age of 43. As a result of the loss of two more cities and counties, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen resigned as the party head of the Democratic Progressive Party.

What is the background?
First, a recap of the election. The results of the local election hints at a growing unease amongst the Taiwanese people with regards to the DPP’s handling of the local issues such as the domestic political environment, economy, and the vaccine policy. The local elections is also closely connected to the Presidential election, scheduled for January 2024. Compared to the 2018 elections, the DPP has lost control over a majority of the cities and now only holds a majority in five out of 21 cities and counties. The KMT on the other hand has successfully gained control over 13 cities and counties and four out of six of Taiwan’s municipalities where 70 per cent of the population resides. 
 
Second, the KMT versus the DPP. Taiwan is a multiparty democratic system. But the KMT and the DPP are two of the most popular parties and have dominated the political landscape of the country ever since the founder Chiang Kai-shek relocated the KMT to Taiwan. While Chiang is attributed with being the KMT’s Director-General and leading the party’s fight during the Chinese civil war between 1927 and 1949, he is also blamed for his authoritarian rule and atrocities committed by the party under his command. The party has since evolved from being a authoritative, nationalist, anti-China party to being more moderate approach to dealing with the Chinese aggression in the Taiwan Straits. The DPP, on the other hand, is credited for bringing democratic reforms to the country when it first gained power in 1989. It passed the Civic Organization Law which enabled the formation of new political parties in the countries. The DPP is also known to have a stronger anti-China policy.
 
Third, Chiang Wan-an and his popularity. Chiang Wan-an was previously a lawyer in the US who was nominated as a candidate for Taipei’s Mayoral elections in May 2022. For the Kuomintang, the lack of support from the youth has been an issue. However, Chiang now represents the three per cent of youth in the Kuomintang Party and brings a youthful image to the party which had been losing its relevance in the popularity of the Democratic Progressive Party.

What does it mean?
First, even though the KMT has achieved a major win through the local elections, it does not guarantee a friendlier approach to dealing with China. The KMT will attempt to bridge the economic gaps with China, but it does not believe in reunification according to the Chinese ideals. The KMT is yet to come up with a plan on how it aims to maintain warmer ties with China while also sustaining its independence as the democratic China.
 
Second, the growing popularity of the KMT in Taiwan may signify an end to Tsai Ing-wen’s DPP. Unless the party regains the trust of the people by rectifying its errors, the Presidential race may not end up in the DPP’s favour. As President Tsai finishes her second term and resigns as the Party head, she does not hold any influence in choosing the upcoming President of Taiwan. The recent election loss will also lead to inter-party frictions between Tsai and other senior leaders in the DPP such as the Vice-President William Lai. Lai is considered to be at the forefront of the Presidential election, representing the DPP. However, as Tsai does not favour Lai, she may push for former vice-President Chen Chien-jen or Taoyuan’s Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan. For the KMT, the Party Chair Eric Chu is credited with the successful win of the local elections and thus, stands a chance to be nominated as the Presidential candidate. However, the New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih is also credited with winning the local elections with 4,50,000 more votes than the DPP candidate; which may win him the nomination.


Special Note
Jiang Zemin and his Legacies

Jiang Zemin: A brief political history
Born before the liberation of China, in 1926, Jiang Zemin served as the President of People’s Republic of China for two terms from 1993 to 2003. He was an electrical engineer from Shanghai Jian Tang University and had witnessed a Japanese invasion and a Communist revolution during his early life. He represented the core of the party’s third generation of Chinese leadership (one of the only four leader alongside, Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and Xi Jinping). He was the chairman of the Central Military Commission in the post-Tiananmen period and gave up the position in 2004. He succeeded Deng Xiaoping as the President in the post-Tiananmen square event. Inadvertently, he had the task of rebuilding China’s international image and leading the economic growth of the country.
 
Jiang Zemin was from Shanghai faction and his close ally, former Vice President Zeng Qinghong, facilitated the rise of  Xi Jinping as the leader of the party. He had stacked China’s most powerful leadership body, the Politburo Standing Committee, with his own protégées. He had differences from then-President Hu Jintao’s factions (Chinese Communist Youth League) of officials. Hu Jintao wanted Li Keqiang while Jiang Zemin supported Xi Jinping.
 
Legacies of Jiang Zemin
1. Economic reform
Jiang Zemin has left behind a mixed legacy. His tenure is being looked at with nostalgia. Under his leadership, China actually started seeing an economic miracle. He took forward the Reform and Opening up started by Deng Xiaoping. His theory of Three Represents which was ratified in the 16thParty Congress in 2002 is documented in the Chinese Constitution. It implies that the Party can represent not only the working class but also the “development trends of advanced productive forces, the orientations of an advanced culture and the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the people of China.” He was instrumental in transforming the Chinese economy and society by introducing the elements of a free market economy. He introduced sweeping financial reforms, independent central banks, use of interest rates to combat double-digit inflation. Overall, he was instrumental in leading China out of the post-Tiananmen Square isolation. After 12 years of negotiations, in 2001, China acceded to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) under his tenure. It is a landmark in China’s economic globalisation. It is perhaps Jiang’s most important legacy. He also started the “go out strategy of China” and appointed Zhu Rongji to implement the economic reforms, transformation of the state-owned enterprises (SOEs), real estate, and the banking sector reforms. The tenth five-year plan of China was started under him. The go-out strategy was initiated in 1999 by the Chinese government to encourage Chinese investments abroad. By 2002, China started coming out of the isolation and the economy had started to show an upward trajectory.

2. Military preparedness
Jiang Zemin's legacy goes beyond China’s economic miracle. In the sphere of the military, he preparedthe Chinese army for modernisation and ordered the PLA and the armed police to stop their commercial ventures.

3. The Taiwan Straits 
The third Taiwan crisis of 1995-96 took place under his rule and he gave a famous speech reinstating Taiwanese unification with China adding an eight-point proposal on the issues that have bearing on both sides. He reacted sharply to the Taiwanese President’s visit to the US and strongly supported Taiwan’s reunification issue. He banned the Falun Gong spiritual movement and jailed many human rights, labour, and pro-democracy people in China. Subsequently, there has been a decline in their numbers from 70 million in 1999 to only 2,000 in 2009.

4. Restoration of Hong Kong
The restoration of Hong Kong from the UK to the People's Republic of China was done under his supervision. He delivered a speech as the first Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. This year also marks the 25 years of the handover. In addition, under his rule, China won the bid for the 2008 Olympics.
 
Conclusion
Jiang Zemin passed away on 30 November 2022 in Shanghai due to ill health. His remains were transferred to Beijing from Shanghai on a special flight. China is observing a mourning from 30 November till 7 December and the funeral will take place on 6 December 2022. A funeral committee had been formed under Xi Jinping. It consists of many senior leaders of China. Most of the Chinese Websites such as Xinhua net, People’s Daily and  CGTN turned to monochrome as a mark of respect to him. Notably, his demise has come up in at very delicate time when China itself is facing a series of protests. On the contrary, his departure also means the shrinking number of voices within the Chinese Communist Party who can speak opposing views to leader Xi Jinping. The ruling Communist Party declared Jiang Zemin a “great proletarian revolutionary” and “long-tested communist fighter” in a statement on his death. His tenure would definitely be remembered as the period of smooth transitions and under him, China managed a steady political and social course progress.


Also in the news...
Regional round-ups

East and Southeast Asia This Week
China: The US Defence Department reports an increase in nuclear arsenal
On 29 November, the US Department of Defence reported that China’s nuclear arsenal is prepared to triple in quantity by 2035 to 1500 units. The report also highlighted the heightening sophistication and efficiency of the Chinese air force; identifying China as the US’ top most challenge. The report said: “The Department of Defence estimates that (China’s) operational nuclear warheads stockpile has surpassed 400. If China continues the pace of its nuclear expansion, it will likely field a stockpile of about 1,500 warheads by 2035.” Furthermore, the Pentagon claimed that China was quickly modernising its ballistic missile that deliver nuclear payloads.
 
China: President Xi expresses intention to deepen energy cooperation with Russia
On 29 November, China’s state broadcaster CCTV publicised President Xi Jinping’s statements at the Fourth China-Russia energy forum. At the forum, Xi expressed China’s willingness to deepen its partnership with Russia on energy trade. The statements come at a time when the G7 members consider a price cap on Russian oil exports because of the war in Ukraine. Xi Jinping stressed on the need to ensure global energy security and said: “If China continues the pace of its nuclear expansion, it will likely field a stockpile of about 1,500 warheads.” The Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak reported that the country’s energy exports to China increased by 64 per cent in value and 10 per cent in volume, becoming the fourth biggest yuan trade centre.
 
Thailand: Saudi Arabia's Ambassador re-establishes bilateral ties
On 28 November, Saudi Arabia's Ambassador Abdurrahman bin Abdulaziz visited Thailand after Prince Mohammad bin Salman's visit to the APEC summit. Relations between Saudi Arabia and Thailand were officially restored in January this year and decided to appoint the Ambassador for the first time in over three decades. The visit by the Ambassador led way to the bilateral talks and exploring potential investment opportunities in light of the Kingdom's vision 2030 and the developmental priorities of Thailand. 
 
Malaysia: Joint military exercise with India aims to enhance interoperability
On 29 November, a joint military exercise involving troops of India and Malaysia began with an aim to enhance interoperability in the planning and execution of various operations in the region. The joint exercise, the Harimau Shakti -2022 began at Pulai, Malaysia extending till 12 December. Garhwal Riffles Regiment of the Indian Army and the Royal Malay Army of Malaysia are participating in the exercise. The scope of the exercise is to involve command planning at the battalion level and company level fielding on sub-conventional regions.

South Asia This Week 
Bhutan: South Asian and Southeast Asian countries sign agreement to increase distribution of climate resilient varieties
On 24 November, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, India, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam signed an agreement to bolster cross-country seed sharing and promote the country’s seed sector. The agreement, called ‘Seeds Without Borders’, looks to escalate the distribution of modern and “climate resilient” varieties of seeds across countries to support vulnerable farmers and to establish a “secure food supply.” Bhutan’s Agriculture Minister said that the agreement would help Bhutan’s “food system become self-reliant, productive, diverse and sustainable,” and appreciated the agreement’s intentions to add roots, tuber crops and fruit crops with other seeds, which includes cereals, rice, pulses and vegetables.
 
Bhutan: ISRO launches jointly developed PSLV-C54 rocket successfully
On 26 November, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) C54 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Srihari Kota, in Andhra Pradesh. The launch of the satellite was attended by a high-level delegation from Bhutan, led by Bhutan’s information and communication minister Karma Donnen Wangdi. The satellite was jointly developed by India and Bhutan and was launched with eight other nanosatellites on an Indian rocket. The launch of the new satellite is part of India’s efforts to support Bhutan’s use of advanced technology. The India-Bhutan satellite shows high-resolution images of Bhutan for the management of the country’s natural resources.
 
Bangladesh: India calls on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to collaborate on curbing terrorism
On 30 November, India’s High Commissioner to Bangladesh Pranay Verma urged Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to “work together” to resist terrorism in the country. Verma said that the country gets “the highest priority”, and that Bangladesh is a “very good friend” of India. Responding to Verma’s comments, Prime Minister Hasina said that Bangladesh has “vowed” not to allow terrorists on “its soil” and that the government believes that terrorism has “no religion and boundaries.” Both agencies also discussed the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) to increase economic relations between the countries and spoke of mutual bilateral cooperation in all areas of trade. 
 
Sri Lanka: Prisons cross occupancy by 300 per cent
On 27 November, Sri Lanka’s Department of Prisons said that the number of prisoners arrested for various charges has constantly increased since January 2022, in every prison in the country. The Commissioner of Prisons Chandana Ekanayake said that every prison in total holds 26,000 prisoners so far, of which 16,000 are suspects. Ekanayake added that more than 50 per cent of people arrested in 2022 are related to drug-related charges. He added that the maximum number of inmates that the prisons can accommodate in the whole country is about 13,200. He said that the system is holding twice the capacity, and some prisons have exceeded capacity by 300 per cent.
 
Sri Lanka: France to contribute EUR 4,50,000 to develop renewable energy
On 3 December, The French Development Agency (AFD) with the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and Electricité de France (French electric utility) signed a grant agreement worth EUR 4,50,000 to aid the increase of intermittent renewable energies in Sri Lanka. Ambassador of France to Sri Lanka Jean-François Pactet said that France will continue to support Sri Lanka’s committed path towards 70 per cent of renewable energy by 2030. Pactet said that the program is an example of synergies resulting from years of knowledge sharing and close collaboration between Sri Lanka and France to achieve common goals in combating climate change. He said that in total, AFD had committed nearly EUR 80 million to support CEB to meet the growing energy demand and diversify Sri Lanka’s energy sector.
 
Maldives: India provides USD 100 million loan as budgetary aid
On 29 November, India granted a loan worth USD 100 million as budgetary support to the Maldives. The Indian High Commissioner Munu Mahawar issued a symbolic cheque to Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid at the Maldives Foreign Ministry. Mahawar said that financial assistance was made in response to a request made by Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohammed Solih when he met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to India in August. Mahawar added that the assistance was unconditional and the Maldivian government was free to use the funds to restore the domestic economy in line with its priorities. Shahid thanked India for its help, and he said that the progress Maldives has made in diplomatic relations has not been achieved through isolation, but through fostering trust and relationships with bilateral partners.
 
Pakistan-Afghanistan: Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and delegation visit Kabul
On 29 November, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar along with a high-level delegation met with Taliban leaders in Kabul, Afghanistan. During the visit, she held wide-ranging talks with Afghan Taliban leadership on security issues and economic cooperation. She met with the Taliban’s acting Foreign Minister, acting Deputy Prime Minister for Administrative Affairs and the Women’s Chamber of Commerce. During the meetings, she discussed cooperation in education and health, bilateral trade, connectivity and people-to-people contacts and highlighted the importance of women’s role in society. Additionally, a Taliban official stated that both sides have agreed to introduce new mechanisms for bilateral relations as a measure to identify common opportunities and resolve issues through dialogue.

Afghanistan: US Special Representative to visit Japan, India and UAE to discuss the Afghan crisis
On 30 November, the US Department of State announced that Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West will travel to Japan, India, and the United Arab Emirates between 1-8 December. During the visit, West would meet with several partners and Afghans regarding the humanitarian and economic crises in Afghanistan, the protection of Afghans’ rights, and shared security concerns.  Additionally, he will interact with the Afghan diaspora, media heads and human rights activists to discuss possible measures to address the challenges faced by the Afghans.

Central Asia, Middle East and Africa This Week
Armenia-Hungary: Yerevan and Budapest agree to restore diplomatic relations after 10 years
On 1 December, Armenia and Hungary expressed their intention to reopen diplomatic relations after 10 years. The two sides decided to restore ties “based on mutual trust and respect for international law.” This comes after the two foreign ministers held a meeting in Poland within the framework of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSEC) Ministerial Forum. Previously, diplomatic relations between Armenia and Hungary were suspended in 2012 after Hungary extradited an Azerbaijani military who was convicted in Hungary for the murder of an Armenian officer in 2004 during NATO training courses.
 
South Africa: Panel submits report to Speaker on Ramaphosa’s farm scandal
On 30 November, an independent panel investigating a crime cover-up at President Cyril Ramaphosa’s private game farm submitted its findings to the National Assembly speaker. The panel, constituted in September, investigated the theft of USD four million at the game farm in 2020 and its cover-up through bribery; the findings place Ramaphosa at the risk of an impeachment. Ramaphosa acknowledged the theft but denied any role in covering it up. The panel’s findings said Ramaphosa violated his oath of office; however, he said: “I categorically deny that I have violated this oath in any way, and I similarly deny that I am guilty of any of the allegations made against me.” Meanwhile, on 1 December, the opposition party Democratic Alliance called for an early national election. 
 
Africa: South Korea to export the first batch of mpox vaccines
On 29 November, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) announced that South Korea would donate the first batch of mpox vaccines to Africa. The donation would take place under the MoU signed in April 2022 between the Africa CDC and Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) on public health activities and expansion of global health security to enhance disease prevention in Africa. On 1 December, Al Jazeera reported that 50,000 doses of the mpox vaccine will be delivered under the scheme. On 28 November, the World Health Organization announced that the disease, previously called monkeypox, will henceforth be called mpox to avoid racist and stigmatised notions. 

Europe and The Americas This Week
Germany: Parliament approves the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement
On 01 December, the German parliament approved the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement which is the free-trade pact between the EU and Canada. The Agreement was signed in 2016 but had to be approved by the parliaments of all 27 members to fully come into force. 559 German lawmakers voted for the agreement and 110 against the Agreement. The vote was delayed due to a pending court case regarding the Agreement at Germany’s apex court which rejected all the concerns and gave a clean chit to the Agreement back in March. Out of 27 member countries, only 16 EU members have approved the free trade agreement between Canada and the EU and 11 are yet to approve it.

Europe: EU introduces revised policies to reduce packaging waste
On 30 November, the European Commission put forth revised rules to decrease packaging waste. The revised rules propose to make packaging reusable and fully recyclable by 2023. It also proposes banning certain types of single-use packaging for beverages, food, fresh fruits and vegetables and also extends this ban to small packaging for hygiene products in hotels. The European Commission executive vice president Frans Timmermans said: “The way goods are packaged can and should be done a lot better." He added that overpackaging by hotels and restaurants is causing damage to the environment. Some of the newly revised rules include precise labelling of reusable packaging, compulsory return programmes for plastic bottles and aluminium cans and new required rates of recycled material in new plastic packaging. The Commission looks to decrease packaging waste by 15 per cent by 2040 in each EU member country based on population. 
 
Peru: Congress to start impeachment trials against President Pedro Castillo 
On 01 December, Peruvian Congress passed a motion to start impeachment trials against President Pedro Castillo. This comes after the opposition tabled the motion for the same and was passed with 73 votes for it, 32 against and six abstained. After the vote, Castillo was summoned to answer the accusations which will take place on 07 December. This is the third attempt by the opposition to impeach Castillo and they need 87 votes in the final vote to do so. 
 
Argentina: Inter-American Development Bank approves credit of USD 500 million
On 30 November, Argentina’s Economy Ministry announced that the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has approved a credit line worth USD 500 million to Argentina. This credit line will help Argentina fight and adapt to the impacts of climate change. The loan will be provided in a single payment in December and will go towards Argentina’s climate planning capacity, promoting green finance and promoting a circular economy.
 
Canada: Spanish NGO reports on Chinese police stations established in Ottawa
On 29 November, the Director-general of North Asia for Canada’s Foreign Ministry Weldon Epp told the Canada-China Committee that there were several arrangements between the Canadian federal government and China. Epp was referring to a report published by a Spanish NGO Safeguard Defenders, which claimed that there were over 54 Chinese police stations installed outside the Chinese mainland. The report prompted a police investigation in Germany, the Netherlands and Canada. The Chinese embassy in Canada acknowledged the presence of three stations and called them “service stations” that were put in place to help Chinese citizens with processing paperwork and obtaining a Chinese driver’s license.


About the Authors
Dr Teshu Singh is a Research Fellow at the Indian Council of World Affairs, New Delhi. Avishka Ashok, Abigail Miriam Fernandes, Apoorva Sudhakar, and Joel Jacob are Research Associates in the School of Conflict and Security Studies at the National Institute of Advanced Studies. Sethuraman Nadarajan, Bhoomika Sesharaj, and Madhura Mahesh Research Interns at NIAS.

Print Bookmark

PREVIOUS COMMENTS

March 2024 | CWA # 1251

NIAS Africa Team

Africa This Week
February 2024 | CWA # 1226

NIAS Africa Team

Africa This Week
December 2023 | CWA # 1189

Hoimi Mukherjee | Hoimi Mukherjee is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science in Bankura Zilla Saradamani Mahila Mahavidyapith.

Chile in 2023: Crises of Constitutionality
December 2023 | CWA # 1187

Aprajita Kashyap | Aprajita Kashyap is a faculty of Latin American Studies, School of International Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi.

Haiti in 2023: The Humanitarian Crisis
December 2023 | CWA # 1185

Binod Khanal | Binod Khanal is a Doctoral candidate at the Centre for European Studies, School of International Studies, JNU, New Delhi.

The Baltic: Energy, Russia, NATO and China
December 2023 | CWA # 1183

Padmashree Anandhan | Padmashree Anandhan is a Research Associate at the School of Conflict and Security Studies, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangaluru.

Germany in 2023: Defence, Economy and Energy Triangle
December 2023 | CWA # 1178

​​​​​​​Ashok Alex Luke | Ashok Alex Luke is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science at CMS College, Kottayam.

China and South Asia in 2023: Advantage Beijing?
December 2023 | CWA # 1177

Annem Naga Bindhu Madhuri | Annem Naga Bindhu Madhuri is a postgraduate student at the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies at the University of Madras, Chennai.

China and East Asia
October 2023 | CWA # 1091

Annem Naga Bindhu Madhuri

Issues for Europe
July 2023 | CWA # 1012

Bibhu Prasad Routray

Myanmar continues to burn
December 2022 | CWA # 879

Padmashree Anandhan

The Ukraine War
November 2022 | CWA # 838

Rishma Banerjee

Tracing Europe's droughts
March 2022 | CWA # 705

NIAS Africa Team

In Focus: Libya