Taiwan is democracy 'bright spot': CNN – Taipei Times
Taiwan is a “bright spot” of democracy in a world becoming steadily less democratic, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria said on Sunday, before warning about its fragility in the face of autocratic adversity.
In the “Last Look” segment of his weekly TV show Fareed Zakaria GPS, the anchor cited examples ranging from successful elections to unrestricted Internet access to illustrate “Taiwan’s thriving democracy.”
By contrast, he began the five-minute segment by highlighting what Hoover Institution senior fellow Larry Diamond calls a “democratic recession,” in which the world has lost more democracies than it has gained over the past five years.
“But amidst all this backsliding, there is one bright spot: Taiwan,” Zakaria said, citing last year’s Democracy Index by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
That ranked Taiwan No. 11 globally and No. 1 in Asia after jumping 20 places from the previous year — more than any other nation — due to its successful COVID-19 policies, which avoided the tough restrictions seen elsewhere.
The score was also boosted by Taiwan’s “astonishing” 75 percent turnout in last year’s presidential election, Zakaria said.
He contrasted former Kaohsiung mayor Han Kuo-yu’s (韓國瑜) swift concession with “another 2020 election,” in a jab at former US president Donald Trump’s refusal to concede later the same year.
“The success of this election is a testament to the strength of Taiwan’s democracy,” which only began electing lawmakers in 1992, Zakaria said.
“Over the last 10 years, power has been increasingly consolidated in the hands of the people,” with soaring engagement online and offline, he said.
Through digital democracy, citizens have the tools to engage directly with the government, while Freedom House ranks Taiwan’s Internet freedom higher than even the US and Germany, he said.
Zakaria cited the 2014 Sunflower movement, which successfully halted the proposed cross-strait service trade agreement after protesters spent almost 23 days occupying the legislative chamber.
Taiwan’s COVID-19 response then “boosted trust in the government even further,” he said.
Zakaria compared Taiwan’s approximately 16,000 cases of COVID-19 with Australia’s 99,000 cases, despite their similar populations and geographies.
“But for all its achievements, this democracy is conditional,” he said.
“Though self-governing, Taiwan is not technically a sovereign state,” he said, citing Chinese interference in elections and its intimidation.
Taiwanese have watched anxiously as Beijing has eroded “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong, a system it hoped to impose on Taiwan, Zakaria said, referencing a poll that 88.2 percent of Taiwanese reject such an arrangement.
“As the protest movement fell and as China asserts control over Hong Kong every month, it is a bleak reminder to Taiwan and to [US] President [Joe] Biden that democracy at the mercy of an authoritarian behemoth is fragile at best,” he said.
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