Washington and Taipei Are Struggling to Bridge the Cultural and Information Gap

Misunderstandings on both sides handicap a robust and coherent US-Taiwan dialogue, writes Milo Hsieh.

The News Lens
Date: 2019/02/20
By: Milo Hsieh

Credit: Reuters / Tyrone Siu

As discussion continues on issues such as a potential invitation for President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress and an independence referendum for Taiwan, a culture-information gap between those based in Washington and in Taipei has emerged.

The vast difference in the cultures of politics and expression in the U.S. and Taiwan contributes to this, though distance is also an issue that serves as a gap between American and Taiwanese decision makers. The perception and information gap between Washington and Taipei is a problem in U.S.-Taiwan relations since it impedes effective communication and understanding.

In Washington, there is primarily a circle of American academics, mostly highly experienced experts with previous experience serving the U.S. government or working/living in Taiwan. While this group of scholars offers much needed insight, especially as they have personally spent time in Taiwan, the application of their experience on a constantly evolving, digital, and democratic Taiwan can sometimes appear rusty.

1996 was a landmark year for Taiwan. It was the year when the first popular presidential election was held. Despite the difference between authoritarian Taiwan and democratic Taiwan, longtime experts have frequently used their pre-1996 experiences in Taiwan as context for their analysis.    [FULL  STORY]

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