Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Taiwan Elections Study Trip

Over winter break, SAIS students joined Professor David Brown and Professor Carla Freeman of the China Studies Department on a week long trip to learn more about the recent Taiwan elections. Twelve students, many of which who completed Professor Brown's Cross-Strait Relations course this past semester, joined the trip to Taipei, Tainan and Beijing. HNC Certificate/SAIS MA student, Han May Chan, shares highlights from the trip.

Day 1 - 1.12.2016 - Visit to New Power Party Headquarters, Taipei ROC
We visited the headquarters of New Power Party (NPP).  NPP's founding members consisted of leaders who headed the Sunflower Movement, mass student protest in Taiwan in 2014.  Most of their slogans and missions emphasized on appealing to younger generations about many social issues in Taiwan.  New Power Party is a fairly new political party operating on the grassroots level and their headquarters is a simple compound.

Visiting the NPP Headquarters

Lunch at National Chengchi University, Taipei ROC
Before calling on Dr. Chia-Hong Chai, Director of the Elections Study Center, we had lunch in the cafeteria of National Chengchi University.  Later, we visited the Elections Study Center to learn more about the trends of Taiwan people's public opinion about the future of Taiwan, social and economic issues of Taiwan, and the changes in support for different political parties in Taiwan's elections.

Lunch at National Chengchi University

Dinner at Din Tai Fung, Taipei ROC
At the end of the first day of the study trip, we enjoyed a fabulous dinner at a famous chain restaurant called Din Tai Fung, which originated in Taiwan and specializes in xiaolongbao, or soup dumplings.

Dinner at Din Tai Fung

Day 3 - 1.14.2016 - Visit to Tainan City ROC
On the third day of the study trip, we visited National Cheng Kung University in Tainan City, the oldest city in Southern Taiwan.  We exchanged questions and opinions with a few students and professors from the Graduate Institute of Political Economy.  It was truly a rewarding experience and improved our understanding of the political climate in Southern Taiwan.

Visiting National Cheng Kung University

Lunch with Mr. Shih-Chung Liu, Deputy Secretary General of Tainan City Government, Tainan ROC
We had a delicious meal and fruitful discussion with Mr. Shih-Chung Liu, Deputy Secretary General of Tainan City Government.  It was interesting to have a taste of Southern Taiwanese cuisine.

Lunch with Mr. Shih-Chung Liu in Tainan

Day 4 - 1.15.2016 - Prospect Foundation, Taipei ROC
We visited the Prospect Foundation, which is an independent and neutral national security think tank in Taiwan.  We had an open-and-fruitful discussion about difficult topics including the future of cross-straits relations, Taiwan's economic and social issues, the younger generation of Taiwan, and Taiwan's national security concerns.

Visiting Prospect Foundation

Day 7 - 1.18.2016 - Chinese Institute of Contemporary International Relations, Beijing PRC
After arriving in Beijing, we had an opportunity to visit the Chinese Institute of Contemporary International Relations, which is a government-affiliated national security think tank in mainland China.  We learned more about the PRC's opinion towards Tsai winning the Taiwan election and KMT's defeat.  We also exchanged views on how the PRC can best attract or appeal to the younger generation in Taiwan.

Visiting the Chinese Institute of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing

Overall, the Taiwan Elections Study Trip was an exciting, rewarding, informative, and productive study trip.  All participants gained a better understanding of Taiwan's electoral process and democratic system as well as cross-Straits relations from different perspectives of students, academia, think tanks, and political parties from both the ROC and the PRC.

Written by Han May Chan, HNC Certificate/SAIS MA Student