The above are only a few areas where Taiwan can effect change almost immediately, and where failures cannot be attributed to Beijing or unreliable international partners. A secure firewall begins at home and with a concerted effort to modernize institutions, to make them more efficient and better prepared to face the many looming challenges over the next few years. Taiwan cannot shrug off such inefficiencies by arguing that those exist in governments anywhere because, while this is undoubtedly true, Taiwan is in no position given the existential threat it faces to brook those. And in many cases, the institutional problems here are much worse than elsewhere. That is the result of the lack of leadership and vision that has characterized one administration after another, allowing antiquated practices from the authoritarian era to carry on well into democratization. The time to change those is now. Taiwan can only hope that the current government has officials in place—including the woman at the top—who are made of strong enough mettle to get this going and that the opposition will play its role as a loyal, responsible opposition so that reforms have a shot at success.
J. Michael Cole is a Taipei-based senior fellow with the China Policy Institute/Taiwan Studies Program at the University of Nottingham, UK, associate researcher with the French Centre for Research on Contemporary China and chief editor of Taiwan Sentinel. He is a former analyst with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service in Ottawa and has an M.A. in War Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada. His latest book, Convergence or Conflict in the Taiwan Strait, was published by Routledge in 2016.
A Chinese-language version of this article was originally published by Mirror Media on May 22, 2018.
Image: Members of the National Security Bureau take part in a drill next to a national flag at its headquarters in Taipei, Taiwan, November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang