0217: Taiwan Ranked as Asia’s Top Democracy, U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy, China’s Economic Coercion Against Lithuania

Taiwan Ranked as Top “Full Democracy” in Asia, 8th Globally

Taiwan has been ranked as the No. 1 “full democracy” in Asia, jumping three places in the 2021 Democracy Index rankings from the previous year, according to a report released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) on February 10.

Globally, Taiwan has climbed to 8th position in 2021, from 11th in 2020, the EIU report showed.

Regionally, Taiwan (scoring 8.99 out of 10) was ranked ahead of Japan (8.15), South Korea (8.16), and Australia (8.90). “Asia and Australasia have five ‘full democracies,’ including three Asian ones (Japan, South Korea and Taiwan), alongside Australia and New Zealand,” the report said.

The EIU’s Democracy Index is based on five factors — electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, functioning of government, political participation, and political culture — and assesses the state of democracy in 167 countries and regions worldwide.

Based on a range of indicators, each country is given an overall score out of a maximum of 10, and is classified as either a “full democracy,” “flawed democracy,” “hybrid regime” or “authoritarian regime.”

The EIU report showed that Taiwan (scoring 8.99) was the only country in Asia listed in the top 10 worldwide, while Norway (9.75) topped the global rankings, followed by New Zealand (9.37), Finland (9.27), Sweden (9.26), Iceland (9.18), Denmark (9.09) and Ireland (9.00).

Meanwhile, the United States (scoring 7.85) was ranked 26th and classified as a “flawed democracy.”

Classified as an “authoritarian regime,” China (scoring 2.21, down from 2.97 in 2006) sat in 148th position, close to the bottom of the global rankings.

At the bottom of the rankings were North Korea (scoring 1.08), Myanmar (1.02), and Afghanistan (0.32), placing 165th to 167th.

The EIU’s first Democracy Index report was issued in 2006.

[1] EIU: https://www.eiu.com/n/campaigns/democracy-index-2021/
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2022/02/12/2003772996

U.S. Unveils Indo-Pacific Strategy, Vows to Deter China’s Aggression Against Taiwan

The United States will defend its interests and deter military aggression against itself and its allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region, including Taiwan, and work together with friends to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific, according to a key strategy report released by the White House on February 11.

The report, titled “Indo-Pacific Strategy of the United States,” said that the U.S. “will defend our interests, deter military aggression against our own country and our allies and partners—including across the Taiwan Strait—and promote regional security [in the Indo-Pacific].”

The report, the first one issued regarding U.S. strategy in the Indo-Pacific region since President Joe Biden took office last January, noted that the intensifying American focus in the region is due in part to the fact that the Indo-Pacific faced mounting challenges, particularly the “coercion and aggression” from the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

“Our allies and partners in the region bear much of the cost of the PRC’s harmful behavior,” the report said, mentioning in particular China’s economic coercion of Australia, as well as its growing pressure on Taiwan and bullying of neighbors in the East and South China Seas.

The U.S. will work with partners to maintain “peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” support “Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities,” and ensure “an environment in which Taiwan’s future is determined peacefully in accordance with the wishes and best interests of Taiwan’s people,” the report said, while reaffirming U.S. longstanding commitments under the “Taiwan Relations Act” and the “Six Assurances.”

In response to the White House report, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) expressed its appreciation to the U.S. for demonstrating its commitment to Taiwan. MOFA said that Taiwan would continue to work closely with the U.S. to contribute to the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific region and uphold an international order based on the rule of law.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202202120009
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2022/02/13/2003773032

WTO Says China Complainants Rising

Taiwan, the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Japan, and Canada have asked to join forces about the European Union’s (EU) complaint to the WTO over China’s economic sanctions against Lithuania. 

On January 27, the EU filed a case to the WTO over China’s economic pressure and discriminatory trade practices against Lithuania for allowing a “Taiwanese Representative Office” to be established in Vilnius.

Chinese discriminatory actions against Lithuania include “a refusal to clear Lithuanian goods through customs, rejection of import applications from Lithuania and pressuring EU companies . . . to remove Lithuanian inputs from their supply chains when exporting to China,” the EU said in a statement.

“This case is important to most WTO members. The world’s most powerful economies, including all members of the G7, have joined force against China’s illegal actions that threaten the entire international trading system,” Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielius Landsbergis said. 

“What China is doing with Lithuania is clearly coercion. The Chinese are using trade and economic weapons to put political pressure on us,” French Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness Franck Riester commented. Canada also called Chinese retaliatory actions “economic coercion.”

Moreover, Taiwan also condemned the recent Chinese suspension on the import of Lithuanian beef, calling the move “unilateral” and “bullying” and the latest example of Beijing trying to change Lithuania’s foreign policy. 

Meanwhile, Taiwan has stepped up its goods imports from Lithuania to ease the impact of trade curbs caused by China.

[1] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2022/02/13/2003773030
[2] Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/canada-seeks-join-eu-challenge-against-china-wto-2022-02-10/
[3] Nikkei Asia: https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/China-suspends-Lithuanian-beef-imports-as-Taiwan-row-grows
[4] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2022/02/15/2003773144