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J. Michael Cole: When Politics Go Viral Taiwan & The PRC In The Age Of COVID-19

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Since the election of President Tsai Ing-wen in 2016, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has ramped up efforts to divide Taiwanese society, erode its democratic institutions and create conditions favorable to “peaceful unification.” Following Tsai's landslide re-election this past January, observers were expecting that CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping would continue such efforts against Taiwan. When the COVID-19 outbreak hit the PRC in late December 2019, it seemed that contentious cross-Strait politics would be temporarily set aside. But were they? Mr. Cole discusses how, even during a global health crisis, with tens of thousands and perhaps millions of lives at risk, Beijing continued to coerce Taiwan with a new wave of disinformation, interference and military maneuvers, and how it may now attempt to use a changed global environment to its advantage. Mr. Cole will also demonstrate how democratic Taiwan's handling of the outbreak, in spite of exclusion from international institutions like the WHO, has earned it worldwide recognition.

This lecture is part of the Hoover Project on Taiwan in the Indo-Pacific Region.



J. Michael Cole is a Taipei-based senior fellow with the Global Taiwan Institute in Washington, D.C. and the Macdonald-Laurier Institute in Ottawa, Canada. He is chief editor of Taiwan Sentinel and editor-at-large for the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy’s Taiwan Democracy Bulletin. He has been an editor, columnist, and deputy news chief at the Taipei Times. Prior to moving to Taiwan in 2005, he was an analyst at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) in Ottawa. He holds a Master’s Degree in War Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada, and is the author of many articles and five books about Taiwan. His latest book, Cross-Strait Relations Since 2016: The End of the Illusion, was published by Routledge in March 2020.