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Joseph Tse-hei Lee | PACE UNIVERSITY

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The Taipei Times featured History Professor Joseph Tse-hei Lee's piece "In turmoil, Taiwan offers change"

11/02/2020

The Taipei Times featured History Professor Joseph Tse-hei Lee's piece "In turmoil, Taiwan offers change"

The world is on fire as vulnerable individuals and communities face state violence. Yet increasing numbers of people still demand change, fighting for a more equitable society.

The effective use of social media is vital to successfully mobilize political resistance. This is particularly true in Hong Kong, Minsk, Bangkok and Lagos, where courageous citizens defy curfews to oppose police brutality and clog busy intersections to bring financial districts to a standstill.

Last year’s protests in Hong Kong remain the most livestreamed popular uprising, providing a template for social media mobilization and grassroots activism around the world. In particular, the so-called “be water” philosophy of the territory’s protesters, emphasizing fluidity, flexibility and adaptability, has become an integral part of global activism to fight oppression.

In Belarus, despite the government’s threats of mass arrests and use of lethal force, people have challenged the fraudulent presidential electoral results since August, and in Lagos, the anti-police brutality demonstrations have escalated into serious confrontations with the Nigerian military.

In Bangkok, college students have inspired people to join peaceful rallies, demanding an end to military rule and reform of the Thai monarchy. They even forced the Thai prime minister to lift a state of emergency, opening room for dialogue.

These examples represent a new form of civic engagement in this interconnected age, as social media tools have awakened a whole generation of citizens.

As the first generation to grow up in this era of information technologies, they believe themselves to live in a boundless virtual world that is at odds with the hopeless realities they see around them.

Having witnessed the Arab Spring and the Sunflower movement while growing up, young people recognize that the established orders could vanish overnight.

Even though the pervasive control of public discourse is common in many oppressive systems, tech-savvy youths are expressing their opinions online. They turn to electronic media to subvert state censorship and organize peaceful gatherings against the “status quo.”

Without the rigid hierarchy of traditional political parties, advocates reach out through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube on a scale that would have been unimaginable two decades ago.

Social media platforms facilitate the speedy flow of ideas and information, contributing to unprecedented levels of global and local support. In this brave new world, winning the virtual sphere is as important as occupying the public square.

The Internet offers conscientious citizens countless opportunities for mutual interactions, and for private access to multiple sources of information outside of pro-government media. This development is a terrible omen for any dictator, as people can decipher the lies fed to them through government propaganda. 

Read the full The Taipei Times article.

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Taipei Times featured Dyson Professor Joseph Tse-hei Lee's piece "HK looks to catch up with Taiwan"

10/26/2020

Taipei Times featured Dyson Professor Joseph Tse-hei Lee's piece "HK looks to catch up with Taiwan"

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new context for widespread protectionism in international trade, reinforcing the tendency to move away from a laissez-faire business model to a slightly more state-managed economy.

For months, the US-China diplomatic stalemate has left Hong Kong’s top officials confused, powerless and indecisive.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s (林鄭月娥) reaction to the bilateral rivalries was not her finest hour.

Geopolitical complexities make it impossible for the territory to look ahead in a deeply polarized landscape. In addition, health is taking precedence over wealth.

In a post-COVID era, many national leaders are skeptical of laissez-faire as the necessary path toward prosperity.

Although trade barriers are nothing new to Hong Kong, it cannot remain neutral and is becoming an incidental casualty amid worsening US-China relations.

In this volatile environment, Hong Kong officials and business leaders are hoping to use the trade diplomacy mechanism to get the best deals. 

Read the full Taipei Times article.

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Taipei Times Online featured Dyson Professor Joseph Tse-hei Lee's piece "US sanctions undermine diplomacy"

08/17/2020

Taipei Times Online featured Dyson Professor Joseph Tse-hei Lee's piece "US sanctions undermine diplomacy"

US-China relations have evolved in ways beyond what has been anticipated, with many unforeseeable challenges.

Washington’s latest sanctions against 11 Chinese officials and their allies in Hong Kong, including Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥), are more than a sideshow to the deteriorating bilateral ties. This is just the beginning of a more coordinated campaign of economic and political pressure against China’s misrule in the territory.

While Hong Kong’s political elites and business leaders are coming to grips with the rippling effects of the sanctions, one should never lose sight of the far-reaching consequences of this radical shift in Washington’s policy toward Hong Kong.

The immediate effect is political — undermining rather than facilitating diplomacy.

Whenever the US sanctions a head of state, that leader is no longer perceived as legitimate. By targeting Lam, Washington signals to Beijing that she has to go before any fresh start can take place.

The timing of the sanctions is also of great symbolic importance. Within three days, Washington released a string of harsh policies against China and Hong Kong.

Before announcing the sanctions on Friday last week, US President Donald Trump vowed, two days earlier, to revoke the territory’s special economic status in global financial markets. The next day, he signed two executive orders, banning China’s immensely popular social media apps Tik Tok and WeChat.

Very soon, the US’ allies are likely to launch similar sanctions, and such punitive policies entail cross-debarment and information sharing by multilateral banks and national governments.

On the diplomatic front, the sanctions highlight the changing attitude of the West toward Hong Kong amid escalating US-China tensions. 

Read the full Taipei Times Online article.

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Taipei Times featured Dyson history Professor Joseph Tse-hei Lee piece: "Election results a message to China"

01/21/2020

Taipei Times featured Dyson history Professor Joseph Tse-hei Lee piece: "Election results a message to China"

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party was just elected to her second term in office, defeating two formidable challengers, Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and James Soong (宋楚瑜) of the People First Party, in a colorful presidential race.

Winning the presidential and legislative elections, Tsai has obtained a popular mandate to implement her vision of a new developmental direction for Taiwan through a series of incremental reforms that consolidate democratic governance and human rights, improve people’s livelihoods, pursue multiple diplomatic ties and secure transitional justice for victims of the previous KMT regime.

When the voters went to the polls, they perceived the electoral contest as a de facto referendum on Hong Kong’s post-colonial governance and on Taiwan’s relationship with China.

Ever since taking over the presidency in 2016, Tsai has strengthened the nation and made it a safe haven that is free from fear and suppression. In recent months, she has expressed a great deal of concern over the rapid erosion of freedom and autonomy in Hong Kong, and has sheltered the territory’s political refugees.

Looking back, Taiwan’s trajectory toward democratic self-determination has become part of the global struggle for democracy. Its embrace of universal norms, religious and cultural diversity, and good governance are vital to nurturing an inclusive and cosmopolitan environment for people with different opinions, ranging from liberal to conservative.

China’s dismissal of Taiwan’s electoral outcome is predictable and presents three challenges to Tsai’s second term.

First, Tsai needs to double up on efforts to seek and establish institutional safeguards to defend equity and market stability. Because unemployment among low-skilled workers, wage stagnation and economic reliance on China have long been serious structural issues, it is difficult for any administration to pursue a comprehensive economic strategy that satisfies the public’s expectations. Now she has a larger mandate to launch holistic developmental policies to put the nation on the right path toward self-autonomy on both economic and technological fronts.

Second, during her first term, Tsai reassured Beijing and Washington about Taipei’s efforts to stabilize cross-strait relations, with the goal of revitalizing the nation’s high-tech economy and consolidating her political base. However, there has been little room for bilateral negotiations across the Strait.

Read the full Taipei Times article.

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"NBC News" featured Dyson history professor Joseph Tse-Hei Lee in "Pro-Hong Kong demonstrations in U.S. met with China-supporting counterprotesters"

09/05/2019

"NBC News" featured Dyson history professor Joseph Tse-Hei Lee in "Pro-Hong Kong demonstrations in U.S. met with China-supporting counterprotesters"

...“Right now, China is still the second-largest economy in the world, and I think it is also positioning itself as a major international power,” Joseph Tse-Hei Lee, a history professor at Pace University in New York, said.

“So when you look at the timing, I think there is a sense of urgency at least to control the narrative about China, the discourse about China, not just within the country but also overseas as well,” he added.

Read the full article.

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"Taipei Times" featured Dyson Professor Joseph Tse-Hei Lee's piece "Cities on coasts must learn from Mangkhut"

09/21/2018

"Taipei Times" featured Dyson Professor Joseph Tse-Hei Lee's piece "Cities on coasts must learn from Mangkhut"

A vast area in coastal China was severely lashed by Super Typhoon Mangkhut over the weekend. A deadly storm that caused considerable disruptions and dozens of deaths in the Philippines, it brought dren