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Greitens Discusses the Implications of Taiwan’s Humanitarian Assistance Program for Hong Kong

Jul 14, 2020 |

Sheena Chestnut Greitens, Strauss Center Distinguished Scholar and Associate Professor of Public Affairs at the LBJ School, recently published an article in Foreign Policy titled “Why Taiwan’s Assistance to Hong Kong Matters.” In it, Greitens asserts that Taiwan’s recent actions with respect to Hong Kong have the potential to alter the regional balance of power.  Taiwan’s announcement of a program tailored to assist those fleeing Hong Kong in the wake of the new national security law and other recent government crackdowns is more than a simple humanitarian gesture. Indeed, Taiwan’s framing the program as “aiding the fight for democracy and human rights” stands in contrast to South Korea’s resettlement program for North Korean refugees, which it characterizes as assistance to North Korean “ethnic brethren.” Taiwan’s actions, Greitens argues, are rooted in a particular variety of civic nationalism in which “Taiwan sees itself as a democratic nation, first and foremost,” rather than one focused on ethnicity.  

Greitens then moves to discuss the domestic and foreign policy repercussions of these two different approaches. On the domestic side, she notes that Taiwan’s civic nationalism “stands to fare better at incorporating a diverse array of newcomers than South Korea’s approach.” On the foreign policy side, Taiwan’s recent geopolitical gestures “embeds Taiwan within a global community interested in preserving and defending democracy in Hong Kong and around the world,” and puts the island on the frontlines of the competition between free and repressive visions of world order outlined in the most recent American National Security Strategy. Read the full article here.

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