Challenging the Boundaries: Being a Student with Cross-border Perspective

Ching-Chih Huang / PhD Candidate
Department of East Asian Studies

School is a dream factory that supports students to make their dreams come true. The National Taiwan Normal University was established a hundred years ago, and cultivates talents in various fields, including education, liberal arts, arts, science, technology, music, international studies and social sciences. On the basis of efforts by all the teachers and students, the National Taiwan Normal University gains exceptional reputation at home and abroad, and is accumulating glory for the next one hundred years. Now, I would like to share with you about how I develop my cross-border perspective here and why I love my school so much.

My studies in the Department of East Asian Studies

I have studied the doctoral degree in the Department of East Asian Studies for two years, and mainly focused on the issues of the political and economic developements in the Southeast Asian countries amid the power struggle between the US and China. The Department of East Asian Studies is an integrated academic unit, and provides lessons in international politics, economy and cultural. So that I can develop a more comprehensive understanding about the factors which influence the development of a country. Furthermore, I can apply the understanding to carry out more research.

In classes, we discuss serious topics, but the learning atomosphere is delightful, and allows me to feel free to brainstorm, share opinions and inspire more interesting ideas. In the political and economic lessons, we discuss international hotspot issues which greatly impact the global order. For example, when we talk about the rise of China, we analyze the shift of power and the situation of security dilemma amid the strategic competition between China and the US; when we eye on the situation in the Northeast Asia, we discuss how the North Korea’s aggressive behavior increase saber-rattling across Asia and the strategiies adopted by other actors in the arena. In addition, we discuss the the consolidation of democracy in the Southeast Asian countries and how economy and politics interact to contribute to the development of a country. We develop our global perspective beyong the topic boundary.

Apart from that, in the culture lessons, I learn to observe the interconnections among Taiwan, China and the world, and appreciate how the overseas Chinese play a crucial role to maintain culture. In oder to understand how migrants and their networks maintain stability and connection across the disjunctions, we have to understand their mutual interaction. Actually, we don’t have to travel far away to develop our global perspective, Kinmen provides a point of view for us to examine how a local area links with the world. In addition, Kinmen is not only a valuable “gate” for us to walk out to look into the cross-Strait relations, but also a core area for Taiwaness to rethink the possible developments of the cross-Strait relations.

My academic finding

Inspired by the lectures in political classes, I carried out and finished a research about the development of Indonesia’s democracy. The 2004 Indonesian presidential election is the first direct presidential election in Indonesia. Since Indonesian authoritarian regime collapsed and democratic system started to develop in 1998, Indonesia has maintained democracy for over 20 years, during which legislative elections and local elections were held for many times, and direct presidential election was also held for four times. All the elections demonstrate that the development of Indonesia’s democracy has reached a certain stable situation. However, the Indonesian government still faces religious influence and racial differentiation. Therefore, I examine the presidential elections competed by Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto in 2014 and 2019. By analyzing the changes of these two presidential candidates’ policies and their alliances’ characteristics demonstrated in the “issue space model,” I find that economic and religion play important roles in the development of Indonesia’s democracy.

Furthermore, against the background of the rise of China, the competition between the US and China and Joe Biden’s assuming the US President on January 20, 2021, Joko Widodo still has to face policy changes of the US and China, and strives to reach the goal of maximizing national interest. I find that in the face of international negotiations with China, Joko Widodo considers the “win-set” of the “international-domestic” two-level negotiation, and adopts suitable negotiation strategies to achieve his goals. For example, Joko Widodo gradually pursues a balanced development of economic cooperation between Indonesia and China while meeting domestic interest groups’ needs; on the issue of the conflict with China, Joko Widodo chooses to create a stalemate, and then takes advantage of the additional time to strengthen the military mighty with like-minded international friend. I find that the head of country can observe the alteration of international and domestic pressure by changing policies step by step, and choose the best negotiation strategy correspondingly, so as to safeguard national interest, achieve the “win-win” situation and consolidate his national leadership.

My perspective for the future

In addition to cross topic boundary, we cross the boundary of a physical classroom. After the flareup of the pandemic in 2019, we overcame the difficulity learning in a physical classroom, and held online classes during a semaster-long period. We can proudly say that although the pandemic blocks us from school, it cannot stop us from learning. I do believe that “there is no limit but only the sky.” I am confident that based on the knowledge, cross-border perspective and perseverance gained in the Department of East Asian Studies, I will reach my full potential in my career.