Democracy

Leaves lay on the ground as pedestrians and bicycle riders are seen in front of the Reichstag building housing the lower house of parliament Bundestag in Berlin, Germany, on 19 October 2021. (Ina Fassbender/AFP)

Germany between the US and China

With a new chancellor in place, how Germany will adjust its approach to China amid growing rivalry between the two superpowers is an issue that is closely watched by many countries around the world. US academic Zhu Zhiqun examines the possibilities.
Lithuania's President Gitanas Nauseda speaks to the press at the end of an Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels, on 15 December 2021. (Olivier Hoslet/AFP)

Did Lithuania do a U-turn on the ‘Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania’?

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda recently commented that it was "a mistake" to allow Taipei to open a representative office using the name Taiwan. Is this a climb-down by Lithuania following economic and political backlash from Beijing or more a reflection of policy rifts within the small Baltic state? And will the EU and the US pay more than lip service to stiffen Lithuania’s resolve?
Police are seen outside the Stand News office building, in Hong Kong, China, 29 December 2021. (Tyrone Siu/File Photo/Reuters)

Stand News closure and the vanishing voice of HK’s pan-democrats

With the latest closure of pro-democracy media Stand News and the demise of Apple Daily, analysts see diminishing avenues for free expression in Hong Kong. The intense clampdown on media outlets in the territory in recent months has led to widespread concerns over a total demise of the free press in Hong Kong. Zaobao’s China Desk looks into the issue.
A tram makes its way through a street market in the North Point district of Hong Kong on 5 November 2021. (Isaac Lawrence/AFP)

The fight against Omicron reveals Hong Kong’s disunity

As the pandemic drags on with the new Omicron variant, Hong Kongers’ mistrust of the government is far from concealed. Some of them have taken to “resisting” government efforts in containing the pandemic. They, for example, have stopped using contact tracing apps or provided false information. Zaobao journalist Tai Hing Shing reports.
Everyday life through the eyes of secret agents in spy drama Enemy. (Enemy official Weibo)

Mainland Chinese TV drama sparks talk of ‘Taiwan spies’

China's new TV show Enemy tells the story of a spy couple from Taiwan living in mainland China. The drama has won accolades and fans not so much for spy intrigue per se, but the realistic portrayal of everyday life in mainland China. Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan looks at how reel life mirrors real life and the ongoing tensions in cross-strait relations.
US President Joe Biden convening the virtual Summit for Democracy at the White House, in Washington, US, 9 December 2021. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

Japanese academic: Summit for Democracy showed weakness of Biden’s diplomacy

Japanese academic Sahashi Ryo notes that the US-led Summit for Democracy met with a lukewarm response in Asia because it smacked of the US trying to impose its ideas on other nations. Not only that, given the Biden administration’s poor listening skills, their talk of valuing partnerships with allied countries rings hollow.
People wearing face masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19, cast their vote at a polling station while participating in a four-question referendum in Taipei, Taiwan, 18 December 2021. (Annabelle Chih/Reuters)

Japanese academic: Taiwan’s national referendum vote shows democracy at work

​Taiwan’s four-question referendum did not pass, to the relief of the DPP and disappointment of the KMT, says Professor Yoshiyuki Ogasawara of the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. That the motion to reinstate an import ban on pork with ractopamine, namely US pork, did not go through is significant, as it is an election issue that could have a detrimental impact on the DPP. Results aside, the referendum itself was a show of democracy at work and in some ways a bulwark against reunification with the mainland.
People sit on a ferry as the Statue of Liberty, lower Manhattan and One World Trade Center are seen on 5 December 2021 in New York City, US. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images/AFP)

Why democracy is failing and why some authoritarian regimes might just work

Lance Gore notes that US President Joe Biden’s Summit for Democracy is one that will fade away just as quickly as it appeared. Fundamentally, the summit and the “good versus evil” dichotomy it espouses is way past its time. With democracies today, not least the US, facing issues of decline and some authoritarian regimes offering practical governance and livelihood solutions, the clash of systems is just not so clear-cut. In fact, if China irons out some of the kinks in its system, it may become a model of benign authoritarianism that others may find worth emulating.
Chinese paramilitary policemen stand guard on a street in Shanghai, China, on 5 October 2021. (Hector Retamal/AFP)

Can China find its way amid internal and external challenges?

Chinese academic Huang Yuan says the recent Summit for Democracy is part of the US's strategic efforts to create a democratic alliance against China. The US's united front is swiftly changing China's external environment. Meanwhile, China is also facing challenges in further modernising its governance system. Huang describes China's internal and external battles and asks if the Asian giant will be able to move forward and contribute to humanity in the future, like what the US has done in the past.