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Can Taiwan offer an alternative to digital authoritarianism? – Diplomat – Illinoisnewstoday.com

Can Taiwan offer an alternative to digital authoritarianism? – Diplomat – Illinoisnewstoday.com

When the Chinese Communist Party is celebrating its 100th anniversary on July 1, Chinese analysts had watched carefully for clues about what to do Xi Jinping chairman next.On the other hand, Taiwan Move forward in an open parliament plans Introduced in June 2020 And a fundamental transparency policy. China and Taiwan are becoming digital nations

When the Chinese Communist Party is celebrating its 100th anniversary on July 1, Chinese analysts had watched carefully for clues about what to do Xi Jinping chairman next.On the other hand, Taiwan Move forward in an open parliament plans Introduced in June 2020 And a fundamental transparency policy. China and Taiwan are becoming digital nations in parallel — China as a digital authoritarian regime and Taiwan as a digital democracy. Of the two, digital authoritarianism is easy to implement and there are many scholarships focused on defining and understanding it. There is still no clear model of what digital democracy is, but Taiwan is in the process of creating it.

What exactly is a public parliamentary plan? Introduced last year by parliamentarian Freddy Lim, it was partially inspired by Taiwan’s Open Government National Action Plan. The Public Parliamentary Plan demonstrates the five main goals of the Taiwan Parliament, known as the Legislative Yuan (LY): transparency, openness, participation, digitization, and literacy. In an interview, Lim said he had a long-standing interest in technology and politics, adding that “the reason for pursuing this initiative was a new vision of what the future of government and parliament should be.”

The public parliamentary plan is very similar to CSPAN in the United States, but includes reforms such as LY’s dedicated television broadcast with significant addition of sign language. It also prohibited negotiations between the parties in a closed room, including at the committee level. Another major change is publicly available digital data such as voting records, budgets and conflicts of interest. Currently, online information is limited and most records must be physically requested in LY.

Similarly, in Taiwan Open Government National Action Plan Through a series of policy changes across the Taiwanese government, it focuses on increasing transparency, providing data and increasing public participation. Taiwan is not internationally recognized as a country and cannot be an official member of the Open Government Partnership (OGP). Nevertheless, it announced that it would create its own national plan in 2019.

Taiwan’s Digital Minister Audrey Tang described the OGP as “an international initiative that emphasizes cooperation and co-creation between government and civil society and advocates core values ​​such as transparency, accountability, participation and inclusion.” did. All of this is in line with what we are doing here in Taiwan. Mr. Tang hopes that the open government’s national action plan will be the way for Taiwan to enter the OGP.

You can’t discuss Taiwan’s open parliament or open government plans without talking about the civil society and grassroots organizations of the technology community known as “Civic Tech.” Co-founder of Ttcat, Doublethink Lab, Defined Civic Tech as “a technology that helps promote democracy and give citizens a say.”

“Technology should be built by citizens and owned by civil society,” Ttcat added.

There are many examples of Civic Tech in Taiwan. Mask map It was used early in the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020. Contact tracing QR check-in system For the current outbreak Fact check bot,and Crowdsourcing policy Especially from the citizens. Many of the people responsible for these initiatives g0v (Government zero). “”[Civic tech] Is the key to Taiwan’s governance in the future and how to drive the entire system. Civic Tech will play a very important role, “says Lim.

Mr. Tang is also optimistic. “I believe that many of the challenges we face today, such as pandemics and infodemics, can be overcome by deepening democracy and promoting what I call a” public-private partnership. “

Tongs After joining the Tsai administration, he became the most famous member of the Civic Tech community. But she is the only one best described in the tech activist ecosystem as a whole. The public parliamentary program involved 17 members of civil society, more than seven members.

“‘Giving trust is not gaining trust.’ Open government is not only a way to promote public participation in public affairs, but also a way to foster mutual trust. And such mutual trust exists. When we do, new possibilities for collective action flourish, “Tan said.

According to Lim, the main difference between Taiwan and China is that Taiwan has a deadline for monitoring the use of technologies such as data unlinking and extended authority during a pandemic. Brian Hioe, New Bloom The magazine emphasized the importance of civil society as Taiwan is incorporating more technology into governance. For example, the Taiwanese government is now expanding its authority to collect data during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Citizen surveillance is needed to prevent governments from maintaining data about citizens after the pandemic is over. Surveillance is the key to keeping all governments under control, even democratic governments. Yes, that also applies to the Taiwanese government. “

An looming example of an unsupervised or unreliable government is the increasingly dependent Chinese Communist Party. Digital authoritarianism Monitor and control the population. The most extreme examples are around Tibet, Hong Kong and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. But even the city of Beijing is full of surveillance cameras. The artist who devised a way to avoid 90 cameras Dotted on a straight road.

“There is a fundamental difference between Taiwan’s digital democracy and the Chinese administration’s digital authoritarianism,” said Tang. “Beijing uses digital tools such as the Social Credit System and national censorship, but in Taiwan the social sector is actively creating digital infrastructure to allow everyday citizens to propose and express their views on policy reforms. I am doing it. “

“In digital democracy, transparency is about making the nation transparent to the people,” she continued. “Under digital authoritarianism, the word” transparency “means making citizens transparent to the state. “

Amy Staddard, director of technology and democracy at the International Republican Institute, said: “Taiwan is at the forefront of thinking about how technology can advance the principles of democracy. In an era of system competition, Taiwan’s success in doing so is digital, not digital authority. It shows the world that democracy can be the political system of the future. “

But Ttcat wants Taiwan’s democracy to be considered outside the context of cross-strait competition. “China’s digital authoritarianism [be compared to other] An authoritarian system, not a democracy. Although Taiwan and China have a long history of cultural and ethnic sharing, we have very different governance systems in place. “

“The world may see Taiwan as an alternative to China, but whether Taiwan can influence China is more of an issue,” Hioe said. “It’s really important that the Chinese people can learn about Taiwan’s commitment to digital democracy and the issue of access to that information.”

This all raises the question: can we still call Taiwan digital democracy? “People know what Audrey Tang and she are doing, but most people don’t know what digital democracy is,” Ttcat said.

“Taiwanese government will say so, but personally there is still a lot to work on, from the grassroots level,” Lim said.Similarly, Hioe says, “Digital democracy. [could put] New paint veneer or new paint for bureaucratic processes that are still slow to change [hide] Some elements of government have been modernized and brought into the digital era, while others are lagging behind. Creating a new app to provide an unobtrusive service is not the same as comprehensive modernization.

The digitization of Taiwan’s democracy may not be perfect, but the efforts of Taiwan’s government and civil society show a viable alternative to digital authoritarianism. Digital tools and policies for reforming governments can also be applied to other democracies.

“For China, there may be only one thing that is certain: the propaganda story they have been telling for years, that democracy is not for Asia, is under Taiwan’s progress. It’s no longer attractive, “says Ttcat.

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