The International Affairs Forum offers two pieces that touch on Taiwan this week. The first is a long address by an Indian scholar on Taiwan. It offers a good example, I think, of how Taiwan is understood elsewhere…..an excerpt:

In like manner,although much smaller in area, Taiwan has a much higher level of technological sophistication than the PRC, and does significantly more cutting-edge research than its neighbor. It is not accidental that Taiwan has become a democracy since the system was introduced by President Chiang Ching-kuo in 1987. Since then,especially with the election to office of the native-born Lee Teng-hui the next year, democracy has become a much more powerful weapon in the creation of international resonance for Taiwan than (for example) “pocketbook diplomacy”. Moving to the present,the reality of the PRC remaining within an authoritarian straitjacket is substantially behind the international unease over conditions in Tibet,a landlocked territory with a unique culture. It is the view of this analyst that whether in 1919 or 1949 or indeed next year in 2009, democracy would be a much more beneficial system to the people of the PRC than an authoritarian state structure that denies those rights enjoyed by citizens in countries across the world. It is an insult to the civilizational depths and excellence of the people of the PRC to say that they would not be able to “manage” a democratic state structure. These are copies of the reasoning adopted by then British Prime Minister Winston S Churchill in 1944 to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek, that the people of India lacked the maturity needed to exercise democratic freedoms,and that consequently,an indefinite extension of British colonial rule was inevitable. The example of India since 1947 shows that democracy is as natural to the human spirit in India as it is in Europe or,indeed,in Taiwan,and that the population of the PRC would benefit rather than suffer from a system where they had the right to choose their leaders.

If the people of Taiwan have shown a much lower propensity to accept authoritarian rule as a part of the PRC than the people of Hong Kong, it is because that former British colony never enjoyed the freedoms of a democracy. It was only after it became clear that Paramount Leader Deng Xiao-ping would not agree to anything short of complete accession of the whole of Hong Kong to the PRC in 1997 did Whitehall begin to see the “light of democracy” shining in its sights, sending Christopher Patten to the colony as its 28th (and last) Governor in 1992. Over the next five years,Patten oversaw a series of pseudo-reforms that essentially transferred some peripheral powers to local elites and away from London, where they had been concentrated till then. Had Whitehall the vision to implement democracy in Hong Kong after the takeover of power by the Chinese Communist Party in 1949 on the mainland, or even after Taiwan switched to a democratic system four decades later, by 1997, the population of Hong Kong may have been active enough to ensure a preservation of much greater freedoms than were agreed to between London and Beijing till the handover. The fact that Taiwan has evolved into a full democracy has been the major reason behind the unwillingness of the local population to agree to a union with the PRC, even though the majority are in favor of a pragmatic accommodation that both preserves the autonomy from external control of Taiwan and the business links between the PRC and Taiwan. As is usual in democracies, the Taiwanese electorate opted for the “Middle Way” ( as distinct from the Middle Kingdom) during the parliamentary and presidential elections held this year.

This is followed by an interview with the same scholar about the elections here and other international issues.

….Another foreign professor down for sexual harassment — this time of a stewardess on China Air. Yesterday’s Liberty Times reported him as “Noel Kaylor” who is a real professor but of medieval philosophy and appears never to have been to Taiwan, but today’s papers have him as “Noel Harold Kaylo” and a prof at National Sun-Yat Sen University. It’s kind of funny-sad to handcuff a man for patting a flight attendant’s butt, in a country where it is legal to pay for sex but illegal to be a prostitute. David on Formosa has the Taiwan links for Monday. What’s not out there? At CommonDreams, the big progressive website, no mention of the Taiwan election that I can see.