The World Today for November 24, 2022

NEED TO KNOW

Roadblocks for a Generation

TAIWAN

While Taiwan debates expanding its democracy, observers are debating whether China will be soon launching a takeover attempt against the country, which Chinese leaders view as a renegade province.

Taiwanese voters head to the polls on Nov. 26 to vote for local officials, including the mayor of the capital of Taipei, as well as on a referendum question asking whether the minimum voting age should be dropped from 20 to 18, the Diplomat explained. Taiwan is the only major democracy where 18-year-olds can’t vote, and one of less than a dozen worldwide. The idea has the support of all the major parties in the country.

Still, some Taiwanese doubt that young people understand politics, or are capable of taking care of themselves and making independent decisions, the Taipei Times wrote.

In a recent televised forum, legislator Hung Sun-han of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party noted that around a fifth of Taiwan’s population is 65 and older. He implored voters to support the referendum in order to make sure young people still had a say in their future. “We need to allow young people to participate in policy-making, and we must ensure that our society doesn’t fall into a crisis of generational inequality,” Hung told Channel News Asia.

Similarly, a Taipei Times op-ed argued that 18-year-olds should be able to vote because they are technically adults qualified for military service. Japan, Malaysia and South Korea have lowered their voting ages to 18 over the last decade, too.

At present, however, less than half of Taiwanese voters are expected to support the referendum, according to Radio Taiwan. Many voters hold traditional views that make them skeptical of giving young folks too much power.

As the Taiwanese toil in the trenches of electoral politics, Chinese President Xi Jinping recently buttoned his third term, demonstrating his near total control of the Chinese government, National Public Radio reported. Under Xi, the giant Chinese military 100 miles away on the other side of the Taiwan Strait appears to be girding for an invasion. Missile tests, air strafing and naval exercises have become par for the course for Taiwanese military officials who are forever poised for a fight, the New Yorker wrote. The tensions in the region have made the possibility of a mistake that leads to a war that the US might need to enter, rather than a full-blown out-of-the-blue invasion, the most worrisome option for some strategic thinkers.

Meanwhile, Taiwanese citizens who work in China and have contributed to its growing high-tech sector are also leaving, citing draconian coronavirus regulations and a desire not to help China acquire more cutting-edge tech, reported the New York Times.

What China does depends on the will of one old man. How Taiwan responds, however, might be up to the teenagers.

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