Alumni Notes


Inside Politics

At age 31, Bi-khim Hsiao is among the youngest female politicians in her native Taiwan, and she's been at it for more than a decade. She's currently a legislator with the Republic of China and served as an advisor and interpreter to President Chen Shui-Bian for almost two years.

With a degree in East Asian studies from Oberlin and a master's in political science from Columbia University, Hsiao began her career as a program coordinator with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Washington, DC. As a graduate student during the 1996 Cross-Strait Crisis, she mobilized overseas Taiwanese students to protest against China's missile threats.

Before joining the current administration, she led the Department of International Affairs for the DDP, becoming the youngest director in party headquarters. She reassumed that position last July with President Chen's inauguration of the party chairmanship. "In the Legislative Yuan we have an opportunity to make real progress for Taiwan," Hsiao says. "I'm working with my colleagues to bring about social justice, strengthen our democratic institutions, and foster a peaceful and secure international environment in which Taiwan may survive and prosper."

During a conference last summer, Hsiao said that China's international isolation of Taiwan has forced the island to develop new mechanisms of international cooperation, such as civil society groups and networking with political parties. "Taiwan's democratic experience in overcoming authoritarianism is a great asset," she said. "Although Taiwan still faces challenges that are common in developing democracies, many Taiwanese believe for the sake of our survival, that it should play a more aggressive role in regional cooperation for democracy."

Hsiao also stated that Taiwan needs to establish its own "democratic foundations" to mobilize resources necessary for the promotion of international cooperation efforts.

-Matt Vella '03

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