The one I’m working on now, which is interview will go in is a sequel to that, called, “The Fire of The Dragon,” and it’s looking at China internationally, but Taiwan is a thread that runs through the book. That’s due out in August.
It’s essentially a study of the surveillance state and the way it was created and what it adds up to, for an audience who are quite new to that.
The title is, I wouldn’t say it was based upon the Sting, The Police, “Every Breath You Take, Every Move You Make.”
Which is my last book.
I’d like to give you a present.
Forget about the planes and the tanks, it is these institutions and this society. Is that something that you would share?
How about a general point to finish on it. When you look at the strength of Taiwanese democracy, it’s always struck me that the liberalism, diversity, democracy, these in many ways are one of Taiwan’s greatest points of defense.
Any/All, because that’s a coding expression, isn’t it?
Because that literally means, “And…”
Isn’t that your Twitter handle as well?
It goes to the basis of the language.
That’s right. [laughs] Tell me about that, will you?
I think it was a French interview that I read that you gave. When they were asking you about how you like to be referred…
Do you feel that you’ve broken ground with this? That you’ve pioneered a lot of this?
You tick both?
The options on these bureaucratic forms. I guess you would have to tick.
Let me ask something about yourself. How was it as the first nonbinary minister? Was it difficult? How were you received in the early days when you first took up the job?
Also, I think that there isn’t a lot of difference between Putin’s vision of Russkii mir — the Russian World — unifying the Russian World and Xi Jinping’s vision of his Chinese dream of unifying the Chinese world. They’re scarily similar in a lot of ways.
People looked at Ukraine, and we’re writing it off when on the eve of the invasion…I think the remarkable resilience that they’ve shown is quite something.
Is that a sense? How is Ukraine playing out here? Would you say?
Tell me about the impact of Ukraine. My sense is it’s focused a lot more people for a whole number of different reasons there’s been a wake up call from the severity of sanctions, the unity of purpose we’ve seen, but also in people thinking, “Hang on, let’s look at ...
It’s permanently in a state of renewal and reinvigoration in a sense.
Need to improve. It’s an ongoing project, I guess.
A pride in what the country has achieved, whether it’s through democracy, social activism, which is in stark contrast like so much else with the rather rabid ethnic nationalism that you see across the street.
There’s a sense as well in this. That I was having a conversation with someone the other day. We were talking about patriotism. One of the points they were making is that there is a civic nationalism in Taiwan.
Also, you have been trying to nurture this start up culture as well, which I guess is parallel to what we talked about the white hats. It’s something which is quite critical. Isn’t it? It goes to the base fundamentally about the economic future, and the ability to turn Taiwan ...
This is something which is continuing to develop and grow. I suppose the tendency. It’s easier to organize that stuff when there’s a KMT government. There’s perhaps more to oppose. You’ve got a more progressive government, but you still see civic society as developing in a positive way.
It’s quite something. Isn’t it? The tendency has always been to dismiss young people as essentially being not particularly interested. My sense is it has been quite a blossoming civil society here.
I suppose parallel to this as well, it’s been this remarkable flowering of civil society in Taiwan. You were involved with the Sunflower Movement, which I suppose was when outsiders noticed it. It goes far wider. Doesn’t it? From indigenous rights, the environment, marriage rights…
How’s that? How are you going about that? How’s that coming together?
To take that a step further, you mentioned the white hats. One of the things I noticed you set out to do was to involve more the hacking community in the process of government and developing policies.
It’s basic sanitation.
I remember that.
…the trade secrets. What’s your assessment of Taiwan cybersecurity? You’re on the front line here in many ways. You’ve had people come through here from the EU, US, looking to Taiwan to see what they can learn. What takeaways have you been able to give them?
I see. It’s on the one hand is the broader sense to try and undermine institutions and confidence. Then there’s a more practical target of getting…
Part of the gray warfare.
This is Scandinavian one. Wasn’t it? I guess it’s because of linguistic cultural similarities. The fact it’s such an open society here. What do you think makes Taiwan such a target like that?
I see. Tell me. You authored a piece. I think it was in “Jerusalem Post” with Joseph Wu about cyber security. The figures you quoted there were pretty scary. I’d read somewhere else that Taiwan is the biggest victim of cyber attacks anywhere in the world. For a whole combination ...
What would you say your best definition would be of radical transparency?
You’d sometimes described yourself as a conservative anarchist. How would you define that?
With the zombies as well. I remember the zombies. That was one I noticed. Wasn’t it? There was something put forward that all these companies were closing. Then you clarified that with the zombie video.
Quicker than the rumor.
It has to be quick.
Was it easy? I suppose there are more conservative members of the government. Is it always easy to get them on board with this stuff?
Self parody. It wasn’t it. We do it.