From 1945 to 1949, an estimated million-plus people from China arrived in Taiwan. The newcomers joined an existing population of 6 million, significantly changing the demographic makeup of modern Taiwan. In this episode, we look at the stories of some of those who arrived, and how perspectives of China differ among generations and those who travel back and forth.

Dispatch from Taiwan,” a podcast by USIP and Taiwan-based Ghost Island Media, delves into the policy debates within Taiwan that could have implications for the region and beyond. Each episode features Taiwanese local experts and voices weighing in on social, economic and defense issues and discusses how Taiwanese society is responding to these challenges. 

People we spoke to agreed that regular and meaningful interactions between citizens across the Taiwan Strait are necessary. Otherwise, as military and political tensions continue to rise across the Strait, the chances of misunderstanding escalate and could lead to conflict. This episode includes interviews with Shiang-Chu Tang, a filmmaker and Peabody Awardee, Jin Liao from New Frontier Foundation, Ian Rowen from National Taiwan Normal University, journalist Yu-Ping Chang, and master’s student Olivia Lin.


NARRATOR: In 1945, an influx of refugees from China arrived in Taiwan. They included members of the Nationalist Army led by Chiang Kai-shek, Kuomintang party officials, and other refugees escaping Communist China. This is what’s now known as “The Great Retreat.”

The newcomers -- estimated one to two million of them -- they joined an existing population of 6 million who had seen waves of settlers and colonizers since the early 16th century: from Holland to Spain, Britain, Imperial China, and Japan. And there’s also the island’s indigenous population, who we now know as the origin of the Austronesian-speaking people of the world.

This latest arrival in 1945 changed drastically the demographic makeup of modern Taiwan.

Shiang-Chu Tang (Translated): My name is Tang Shiang-Chu. Tang as in the surname. Hsiang means Hunan. Chu, as in Hsinchu. This name means, I am a Hunanese born in Hsinchu, Taiwan.

NARRATOR: Tang’s father was born in Hunan Province, in China. He came to Taiwan with Chiang Kai-shek’s army and sort of got stuck here. In 1949 when Chiang Kai-shek declared martial law in Taiwan, it also prohibited any movements across the strait. No phone calls between Taiwan and China. No sending of postal letters. And definitely no visits.

Today, stories of movements of people between Taiwan and China. In this time of heightened tensions of geopolitics around the world, we look at how tourism and family visits, and business and academic exchanges help Taiwan manage its relationship with China.

This is “Dispatch from Taiwan”, a podcast series where we take a deep dive into debates that influence Taiwan’s policies that can shape the region. My name is Emily Y. Wu, and I’m your host. Welcome to episode five.

Shiang-Chu Tang (Translated): My father and other men of that generation experienced war and displacement. After arriving in Taiwan, they weren’t used to talking to their children. They had to bring home the bread and bacon, and they had already lost half of their lives. They rarely talked to their children about these things.

NARRATOR: Growing up, Tang’s father didn’t speak much about China. Not about his first wife. Or the boat ride to Taiwan. For 38 years, those who came with Chiang Kai-shek were cut off from their families. Many remarried and built a new life here. Then in 1987, one month after the lifting of martial law, they were told they could finally go home -- for a visit.

Shiang-Chu Tang (Translated): He grew up in the countryside. They didn’t have cars. So he passed through Southern Hunan to Hengyang, then to the village of Liangtiendong, to the Tang’s clan. They came out to greet him, and they carried him across the muddy road. It had just rained, and father wasn’t in the best of health.

NARRATOR: During this first trip, Tang Senior went back to Hunan on his own. He got to see most of his family -- his brothers, his sister, and their children. His parents and his first wife had passed away by then.

Shiang-Chu Tang (Translated): He spent a lot of time catching up with his older brother. His younger brother -- who was a low-level government official in Jiangxi -- also saw him off at the train station. He wrote a really long letter after my father arrived back in Taiwan. The letter was quite touching. But by the time I visited, all these people were gone. Only my aunt was still alive, my father’s younger sister.

NARRATOR: Throughout the years, Tang realized that his father would send money to Hunan. He never knew how much, or to whom, but it became clear that this type of support was expected from his father, and then later, from him. Tang accompanied his father on the next, and the last trip to Hunan. He said the trip gave him the opportunity to really get to know these relatives.

He made a documentary about this experience. Scenes of his father meeting his younger sister, the last surviving sibling. His father at the family tomb. His father staring into the distant sunset of Hunan that had once been his home.

In the late 1990’s, family visits like this were the only public links between Taiwan and China. Back then, Taiwanese simply didn’t know much about China. News censorship under martial law had kept a tight lid on information. So as Taiwan transitioned into democracy, the impact of these family visits on society was monumental.

In 2002, Tang Shiang-Chu’s documentary about his father’s trip back to Hunan won the Peabody Award that recognizes the most powerful stories in that year’s television and radio.

Here’s the award ceremony: “its lyrical exploration of the power of family to connect generations, even though it was divided by geography and politics. A Peabody Award goes to “How High is the Mountain.”

Jin Liao was a journalist starting in the late 1980’s. She had a front row seat to these family visits. Jin Liao (Translated): It’s always a very touching moment. After all, separation wasn’t a choice. This was a result of war.

NARRATOR: Jin’s family history in Taiwan had predated the arrival of the Chinese nationalists in 1945, so she didn’t share this history of displacement. But she was empathetic.

Jin Liao (Translated): Those of us who were born in Taiwan didn’t share this life experience. But on a level of humanity, you can feel the impact of politics on the family relationships of these people. So when you witness what happened, you will feel a lot for them, and you want to understand the reasons for this gap created by politics.

NARRATOR: Jin said this was an important development for Taiwan, as it led to ample discussions at the time about the culture and the politics of China.

She recalls the first time she visited China while on a reporting trip. She was impressed by the architecture, and the broad landscape of the country. She felt that exchanges of people between Taiwan and China helped build positive ties across the Strait.

Jin Liao (Translated): I think it's really important to understand each other. The first step is to learn to listen. I think Taiwan’s culture is more open after all, so we have more possibilities to listen. I have many friends within China’s cultural scene. I had also worked there. The similarities in culture and language actually provided a different sense of closeness when we interact with friends in China.

This closeness is a good beginning. It can be the beginning of a good friendship, if there aren’t too many political restrictions. It can be a beautiful friendship. Like the ending of the film, Casablanca.

NARRATOR: Eventually, mechanisms were created to allow for the free flow of people and information across Taiwan and China: by ways of cultural exchange, business opportunities, tourism, and scholarly pursuits. In 2005, the first passenger flight flew across the strait. And three years later, in 2008, direct transportation, postal, and trade began.

In the early days, China’s coastal cities offered a familiar environment to the business community from Taiwan. It also offered incentives like tax breaks and cheap wages. Money – and the promise of making more of it in China – was a big attraction for Taiwanese business owners in search of new places to invest in. And why not?

During this rush, from 1987 to 2008, Taiwanese brought so much money into China that it amounted to 14 percent of China’s foreign trade at the time.

The Taiwanese business community abroad is known as “Taishang”. At its peak, around 2013 and 2014, more than half of all Taiwanese who worked abroad were in China. Official records marked this at almost half a million people, though unofficial estimates were closer to 1 to 2 million. They clustered around Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Beijing. And in 2003, Jin made a documentary about Taishang in China. She eventually became one herself -- working in advertising.

Jin Liao (Translated): At around 2003, I saw Shanghai at its most prosperous. And then in 2011 at the period of the handover between Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping, you could feel the difference in their policies. It’s a pity. China’s political system was not able to change along with its economy. It’s a pity for many of our Chinese friends and for their development.

NARRATOR: People like Taishang were meant to create a bridge between Taiwan and China. Some scholars called them a “linkage community” with the power to create a cross-strait connection. Instead, these ties had the opposite effect. Sometimes, Taishang were viewed with suspicion at home in Taiwan, and instead of highlighting similarities, living and working in China ended up emphasizing the differences between the two.

Jin Liao (Translated): I have pro-unification friends who went to work in China. After they lived in Beijing for a couple of years, they became pro-independence. One of them wasn’t even a political person -- he cared more for the culture. And we asked him, what happened?

He said he realized he was entirely different from them. They worked and lived together, and there were stories of how Chinese colleagues didn’t want to do the work, but they would steal credit for your work anyway. He didn’t think it was professional. So in the end, he made a lot of money in two years, then he came back with a broken heart. That was about 20 years ago.

NARRATOR: The complaint by Jin’s friend -- taking credit for your work -- though it sounds small, in a larger sense, this was what many other foreign investors would eventually learn as the trade off of conducting business in China. This later ballooned to the industry practice of intellectual property theft across the board. The actions against foreign companies would be considered so unfair, that foreign governments began to take notice.

By 2017, the matter of IP theft had reached the eyes of the U.S. president Barack Obama who issued a memorandum on possible unfair Chinese trade practices that impacted American businesses. A 250-page investigation by the U.S. Trade Representative office the next year wrote about Chinese laws, policies, and practices that were undermining American businesses. Still yet, in 2023, FBI director told CBS News that IP theft most often occurred in agriculture, biotech, health care, robotics, aviation, and academic research. It affected businesses big and small, from Fortune 100 companies down to small startups.

Since her time in China, Jin Liao has come back to Taiwan. With her experience in journalism and business, she’s now at New Frontier Foundation in Taiwan, a think-tank affiliated with Taiwan’s ruling party, DPP.

Businesses aside, tourism into China spiked during this time. The rising superpower was beginning to flex its muscles to show the world strength, positivity, and a sense of optimism. There was a lot to see. The Beijing Olympics of 2008. The Shanghai Expo of 2010. Chinese citizens were eager to travel, too.

In Taiwan, not everyone agreed it would be a good idea to open the island to Chinese tourists, still in 2008, it happened. And Chinese tour groups began arriving in Taiwan. They were subject to strict, unspoken rules.

Ian Rowen: I'm Ian Rowan, an associate professor in the Department of Taiwan Culture, Languages and Literature at National Taiwan Normal University.

NARRATOR: Rowan wrote a book on the geopolitics of cross strait tourism. As part of that research, he went around Taiwan with a group of Chinese tourists for eight days.

Ian Rowen: Taiwan was only open to tourists from particular places in China, and only in fairly large and very carefully managed groups. So they were coming from places like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, the first tier cities of China.

NARRATOR: The sudden increase of group tourism from China was lucrative for Taiwanese businesses that were a part of the tour. Everyone involved became players in a production set to show Taiwan as a part of China.

Ian Rowen: Taiwan's president, Ma Ying-jeou and a lot of tourism industry promoters would say things like, tourism will bring Taiwan and China closer. Of course, they refer to it as Taiwan and Mainland China. They were speaking very politically-correct language. They said that these person-to-person exchanges would promote reconciliation, understanding, and maybe even impress upon the Mainland Chinese tourists the value of Taiwan's democracy and way of life. It would make everyone get along somehow.

NARRATOR: Rowen says the visitors were catching glimpses of Taiwan through a Chinese lens.

Ian Rowen: So the tour groups would usually go to places that were more or less in line with what they were told Taiwan should be like, or that Taiwan is basically a part of China. So they could go, for example, to the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall. This is a character who's performed in Taiwan as the father of the Republic of China, and is also commemorated in China as well for overthrowing the Qing; whereas places that tour groups would not go would be even the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall.

They also certainly wouldn't go to places like the 228 Museum or any site that commemorated violence within Taiwan. And they wouldn't go to anywhere that talked about Taiwan really as a very distinct country.

NARRATOR: Nothing was left to chance – not the language used, nor what the tour guides might have to say.

Ian Rowen: So the tour guide could talk, for example, about Taiwan and Mainland China, but not Taiwan and China. They could talk about Taipei and Beijing, but not Taipei and China. So these words would be fairly carefully handed to the Chinese tour directors.

So they would often say things that would appeal to the Chinese tourists and talk about their shared cultural commonalities. Sometimes this extended into appealing to less, I mean, the less friendly ways of forming solidarity. For example, the tour guide of the tour group I was on would often talk negatively about Japanese people, and talk about how Taiwan had been treated poorly by Japan during the colonial period, as a way of -- I think -- trying to appeal to contemporary China's negative sentiments towards Japan.

NARRATOR: Rowen’s description of Taiwan through the eyes of a visitor from China was of people being part of a production they didn’t know they were actually in. Think “The Truman Show” with Taiwan as one big, island-wide soundstage. Even vendors would change their vocabulary to phrases more commonly heard in China, and not Taiwan.

Ian Rowen: I would often hear not only the tour guide, but also vendors changing their language in very tactical ways. I would hear them talk about Taiwan's ethnic diversity also in ways that would fit Chinese discourses.

When it came to talking about other forms of politics, it really varied. I think the tour guides within Taiwan had a lot of flexibility. They weren't receiving direct orders, often from their clients in China, but there was an understanding -- I think that -- if they were to upset the tourists, then they wouldn't get more tourists, and they wouldn't have jobs.

So these forms of censorship or coercion were much more subtle, and proceeding along much more economic rather than stated political lines.

NARRATOR: So while group tourism was meant to pave the way for better understanding between people, did it actually achieve what officials intended?

Ian Rowen: I think that the tour group tourism -- the bus group tourism -- absolutely made Taiwanese people and Chinese people understand each other a bit less. I think seeing large groups get in buses, get off on buses, shop more, maybe you feel like you can make a bit of money about this, but you're having very little personal interaction.

That having been said, there were a large number of independent tourists that did start coming. They came from a wider variety of places. On average, maybe higher social class or higher spending power, and they got into more parts of Taiwan. And that led actually, I think, to some friendships, some real evaluations of what Taiwan was, vis-a-vis China.

NARRATOR: In 2011, three years after Chinese group tours began, independent tourists from China were allowed to visit too. And Instead of being restricted to buses, hotels, and restaurants picked by their local or Chinese tour companies, these Chinese visitors were free to travel throughout Taiwan, just like any other international visitor.

Ian Rowen: I interviewed a number of tourists of all ages, anything from their late teens into their 70s. In places like Dulan or Hualien in the East Coast, I'd meet tourists and cafes. I would meet tourists at B&Bs, and I would ask them what they thought of Taiwan. I'd meet them in music festivals. and some of them would say things to me like, “Oh, yeah, Taiwan is an island in the Pacific.”

This is the kind of language that Taiwanese nationalists will use to talk about Taiwan. Some Chinese tourists learned to speak in this way; whether or not they were speaking tactically to me or not, shows that at least they were aware of these kinds of discourses in ways that Chinese group tourists would have no access to, because they're getting on the bus, off the bus, shopping, and being told about how Taiwan is, and how it has always been culturally a part of China, and will eventually unify. This seems to be the general sentiment that was used to keep the money flowing for the tour groups.

NARRATOR: As individual tourists from China were striking friendships with Taiwanese, another kind of individuals also began to arrive.

In 2011, the first batch of Chinese students arrived. This was a brand new experience for Taiwanese college students to have classmates from China.

Yu-Ping Chang (Translated): I am YuPing. I have been a journalist focusing mainly on international and cross-strait news. When I was a student, Taiwan had just issued student visas for full-time Chinese students who wanted to come to Taiwan. There were quite a number of them in my class.

NARRATOR: More than 12,000 Chinese students attended college or graduate degrees in Taiwan in that first year. At her first impression, Yu-Ping found them to be very serious students.

Yu-Ping Chang (Translated): It was a very different style from Taiwanese students. It confirmed what our teachers used to tell us -- they were very competitive.

NARRATOR: But there was much more happening beyond the classrooms.

Yu-Ping Chang (Translated): At that time, they participated quite actively in social movements here. In 2011, 2012, and 2013, there were lots of social movements in Taiwan. So, it was as if that was the second classroom. They would observe, but they didn’t want to be photographed. They would dress in an inconspicuous way, and watch from the side of the road.

And, of course, some students were more conservative, so they stayed away from organizations. They didn’t want to interact with these groups. They just watched from the sidelines. But those who were more active, would make themselves known and start conversing with you.

NARRATOR: In those years, social and political activism in Taiwan had been frequent. Anti-nuclear movements. Direct national elections. And Sunflower Movement, the pivotal protest in 2014 against a proposed trade agreement with China.

All this coincided with the height of Chinese travelers into Taiwan. There were around 40,000 Chinese students in Taiwan, and 4 million Chinese tourists.

Yu-Ping Chang (Translated): Personally, I think the student program was a good opportunity for exchanges to happen. There are too few exchanges like this. Without them, the information you know about China or from China, would all come from extreme comments you read on the internet. I think that isn’t healthy.

There’s a great firewall. We cannot access their cyberspace freely. And they cannot spread their ideas freely either. So these kinds of interactions between persons while in Taiwan are very important. And it is important not just for China. There are also a lot of myths or stereotypes that Taiwanese have about China, too.

NARRATOR: These exchanges are important. But the experiences weren’t always positive.

Yu-Ping Chang (Translated): There was a shock in the society then. Yeah, the debates were rather heated. Firstly, the students were thought of as China’s efforts to unite Taiwan. Were they actually spies sent by China to target Taiwanese students? There was lots of skepticism like this.

There were multiple restrictions for Chinese students in Taiwan. They were subject to more rules than other international students, making it potentially unfair for them. they were not a part of the national health insurance system. They couldn’t work or take on jobs. There were very strict conditions for Chinese students in Taiwan. and they had to leave as soon as they graduated. If I were them, I wouldn’t have chosen to come.

NARRATOR: But no matter what, there was a sense that perhaps, the divide between Taiwan and China wasn’t as important on the people-to-people level, as it was to China’s government.

Yu-Ping Chang (Translated): In my education, we rarely discussed the possibility that Taiwan and China could be unified one day. And the Chinese students that I encounter happen to be more open. What I mean is, they respected your views -- whether you wanted to maintain the status quo, if you identified with the Republic of China, or you referred to Taiwan by another name -- they would respect that. So during the process of these exchanges, both sides make an effort to listen to each other. You don’t actually force the other to agree with you.

NARRATOR: Unfortunately, interactions like these peaked in the last decade. There hasn’t been group tourism between Taiwan and China since the outbreak of the global pandemic in January 2020. And even as border restrictions had long been lifted, there’s no indication when, or if, exchange would return to what it once was.

China has yet to allow group tours to Taiwan, and with the lack of reciprocity, Taiwan has delayed its group tours to China.

Even though China remains the country that holds the most Taiwanese working abroad, the numbers are declining, it’s dropped off since its peak in the 2010’s. A combination of China’s policy towards foreign investments, its sluggish economy, and the trend of diversification of supply chains out of China has made the China market a lot less attractive to Taiwanese than it once was.

Yu-Ping has warnings against the lack of exchange.

Yu-Ping Chang (Translated): This might further polarize each side’s perception about the other, to the point where communication would no longer be possible. So you don’t know what these extremes might affect. It might affect how we vote. It might affect China’s policies. Maybe their government really cannot control its wolf-like tendencies, so the policies are impacted as such. I don’t know. No one knows.

So the absence of Chinese students in Taiwan is a pity for Taiwan. That means missing out on an opportunity for exchanges. For young people today, either they go abroad, or maybe they go to China. If they have only worked and studied in Taiwan, then everything they know about China really comes from the media or from the internet. This is easily skewed. The information that gets out of the wall must be extreme.

NARRATOR: China is a personal interest to 25 year-old Olivia Lin. Five years ago she backpacked across China’s portion of the Silk Road with her sisters. They saw it as a challenge to head west towards Xinjiang. They rode overnight hard sleeper trains, met locals through the website Couchsurfing, and wondered at the diversity of the people they met along the way.

Olivia Lin (Translated): I prefer nature, so we went through just a few cities. I’ve been to Shanghai, Wuhan -- wait, ah yes, then -- Xinjiang, Xi'an, Sichuan, Guangzhou in the south, and then Macau. Also Anhui, Hubei, Hunan, and Guangdong. Yes, and also Sichuan, Kunming, Yunnan.

NARRATOR: And then at the height of the COVID pandemic, she became an exchange student in Wuhan.

Olivia Lin (Translated): Yes, yes, I went in February. I came back in October. When I was there in 2021, I quarantined for 35 days! That was when I was in Wuhan. It was very safe there at the time. No one wore masks. When I landed in Shanghai, I quarantined for 14 days. Then when I got to Wuhan, I quarantined for another 3 weeks. So that’s 35 days total.

NARRATOR: Being in China gave students like Olivia the opportunity for actual exchanges with her peers, as well as opportunities to understand each other.

Olivia Lin (Translated): I studied political science in college, but I didn’t feel like I understood China. It felt close, but I had no idea what China was really like. I traveled there in 2018, but you don’t really get a sense of their life if you’re just a tourist. So that’s how I decided to become an exchange student.

NARRATOR: Olivia had a positive experience in Wuhan. Classmates were friendly. And she felt like they were making friends.

Olivia Lin (Translated): They were all very friendly. In school, they could be curious about politics in Taiwan. But when I was traveling, they would ask about Taiwan’s culture, and pop stars. We didn’t talk about serious topics. We would avoid it. I only discussed those with professors at school.

While I was an exchange student in the international relations department, there was a professor who focused on Taiwan. I sometimes stayed behind to chat with the professor. We would discuss topics like national security, and relations between Taiwan and China, and whether we thought there was a need for exchanges.

NARRATOR: These types of questions were what Olivia was hoping to answer by spending time in China.

Olivia Lin (Translated): I wanted to understand them. They kept saying we are one family, but where did that idea come from? I wanted to find out -- if we actually shared the same national identity. Do we really share the same culture? What I felt in the end was -- we were very different.

NARRATOR: Conversation about the status quo of Taiwan did occur from time to time. She would tell her Chinese friends that Taiwan and China were not the same entity.

Olivia Lin (Translated): I said it’s just different. Don’t you know that Taiwan is the Republic of China? I’ll ask straight up. They often said it’s not in their textbook. I said, okay! They would then tell me I should be careful talking like this.

NARRATOR: But Olivia was a guest in a foreign land. She knew better not to stir up trouble.

Olivia Lin (Translated): I didn’t know if these topics were considered offensive, so I wouldn’t bring it up unless they asked first. Oh, but when I was traveling through China, everyone could identify my accent. Even if I was just buying noodles, I would get asked if I was from Taiwan. I got found out easily.

When I was on the road, the phrase I heard the most often was, “Welcome back to the motherland.” This happened so much! People I met along the way, they would say that to me directly. And I would just say, “nah.” I didn’t know how to respond to this sort of brief communication.

NARRATOR: The summer after her study abroad in Wuhan, Olivia lived in Sichuan for three months, then traveled for another month in Yunnan before she finally came back to Taiwan.

She still keeps in touch with the friends she made then. We asked if they were planning on visiting her in Taiwan.

Olivia Lin (Translated): No, it's impossible! They can’t come! They can’t. Friends in Xinjiang will have trouble even applying for a passport, let alone applying for documents to come to Taiwan. And the friends I made in Sichuan, really want to visit Taiwan, but they also can’t. Those who live inland, beyond China’s coastal provinces even have a hard time being allowed to come to Taiwan or Hong Kong.

So they can only fantasize. You feel that they are really curious about Taiwan, and they are. It’s not attainable. It’s a slightly better situation for those in the coastal areas.

NARRATOR: Taiwan’s relations with China is complex. Those we spoke to all agreed that regular and meaningful interactions between citizens across the strait are necessary. It’s the only way to understand each other. And as military and political tensions across the Taiwan Strait continue to rise, the cost of misunderstanding gets higher and could lead to conflict.

Taiwanese who frequented China tell us that their counterparts in the People’s Republic of China were often baffled by Taiwan’s unwillingness to consider themselves a part of China. And yet it’s exactly this type of casual inquiry that makes interactions meaningful. It’s okay we disagreed, as long we were willing to hear each other, to understand each other’s perspectives, so we could respect each other’s differences.

Unrestricted travels and welcoming policies are how friendships can be created. And once we find common ground, then it’s how we can proceed to work with each other in a mutually beneficial way.

At their closest points, Taiwan and China are only separated by a few miles, yet a wide gulf remains between how each side sees the other and the relationship across the strait. This geography won’t change, but perspectives can evolve, as we have already seen in the past few generations.

At time of recording, China has yet to allow group tourism into Taiwan. Taiwan has postponed the opening of tourist visas from China. And China hasn’t set a date yet for when it would allow students to study in Taiwan again.

In fact, ever since 2016, China has cut off dialogue with Taiwan on a government level.

And as for Taiwan, how might it accommodate Chinese voices from both inside and outside of the country -- this is an exercise Taiwan must continue to engage in. For Taiwan holds with high regard its own democratic values and system.

And perhaps, by then, there would be lessons for the world to learn, too.

You’ve been listening to “Dispatch from Taiwan”. This has been a presentation from the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C., and Ghost Island Media in Taipei, Taiwan.

This wraps up our limited series for 2024. Thank you to all the guests who took their time to speak to us. Thank you to the listeners who have stayed with us through all five episodes. If this was your first time, then do scroll back to the feed for our other coverage on economic coercion, on silicon shield, disinformation, and defense. Both USIP and Ghost Island Media will continue to bring you programming, reports, and analysis on global affairs. They can be found on our websites and social media.

Views in today’s podcast do not reflect those of the United States Institute of Peace and Ghost Island Media.

Related Publications

China, Russia See SCO at Counterweight to NATO but India Is Ambivalent

China, Russia See SCO at Counterweight to NATO but India Is Ambivalent

Thursday, July 11, 2024

A week ahead of the NATO summit in Washington, leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) gathered in Astana, Kazakhstan for the group’s annual meeting. Already one of the world’s largest regional organizations, the SCO added Belarus to the bloc at this year’s summit. Established by China and Russia in 2001, the SCO was originally focused on security and economic issues in Central Asia. But amid growing division and competition with the West, Beijing and Moscow increasingly position the growing bloc as a platform to promote an alternative to the U.S.-led order. Still, the organization’s expansion has been met with friction by some members.

Type: Analysis

Global Policy

Dean Cheng on China’s Expanding Space Capabilities

Dean Cheng on China’s Expanding Space Capabilities

Monday, July 1, 2024

China’s successful trip to the far side of the moon — the first nation to accomplish the feat — is not only “great advertising” for potential technology partnerships, it’s “part of the larger Chinese space effort” that seeks to expand China’s own dual-use capabilities in space, says USIP’s Dean Cheng.

Type: Podcast

China in Peru: The Unspoken Costs of an Unequal Relationship

China in Peru: The Unspoken Costs of an Unequal Relationship

Monday, July 1, 2024

China’s political and economic influence in Latin America has increased dramatically since the turn of the century. This is especially true in resource-rich countries like Peru, where China has channeled billions of dollars of investment into the oil and mining sectors. This report takes a critical look at the narrative that closer engagement with China is the key to Peru’s future economic development and prosperity, and suggests ways that US agencies, corporations, and NGOs can support Peruvians’ efforts to create a more equitable balance in their country’s relationship with China.

Type: Special Report

Global Policy

US-China Rivalry in Asia and Africa: Lessons from the Cold War

US-China Rivalry in Asia and Africa: Lessons from the Cold War

Monday, June 24, 2024

One of the hallmarks of the Cold War era was a competition between the United States and its democratic allies, on the one hand, and Communist powers, on the other, for the allegiance of countries in Africa and Asia. In an echo of the Cold War, a similar competition between the United States and China is playing out today. This report examines the US-China rivalry then and now and offers insights and lessons that can guide US policymakers as they navigate the contemporary competition.

Type: Special Report

Global Policy

View All Publications