Much of the world likely got a formal introduction to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen following her ground-breaking call with President-elect Donald Trump on Friday. Their chat made Trump the first U.S. president or president-elect to speak with Taiwan's counterpart since 1979. (The U.S. has long recognized the “One China” policy, which considers Beijing the seat of China’s government.)
There are two portraits circulating of Taiwan's first female president. Beijing, which considers Taiwan a breakaway province, has drawn the first. In Tsai's inauguration address in May, she provoked Beijing by referring to Taiwan as a “country” and refusing to embrace the “one China” outlook. Beijing snapped back, calling her political style and strategy "emotional, personalized, and extreme.” It attributed this demeanor to Tsai’s status as “a single female politician.” China’s foreign minister on Saturday said that the communication between Trump and Tsai was the result of a “little trick” by Taiwan—a characterization that fits with the image Beijing previously painted of the Taiwanese leader.
Meanwhile, a leaked U.S. diplomatic dispatch in 2008 called Tsai anything but a revolutionary. It said the graduate of the London School of Economics has a “moderate,” “low-key,” and “soft spoken” personality that’s likely to “disarm her competitors,” though it did warn that she's not to be underestimated. During her campaign for president, Tsai developed a reputation at home as a policy wonk who likes to stay in, drink red wine, and spend time with her two cats.
It remains unclear whether the Tsai-Trump call was a blatant rejection of protocol on Trump’s part or just a naive mistake. Regardless, it appears Taiwan will be a surprise flashpoint in U.S.-China relations during the Trump administration, so Tsai will likely have plenty of opportunities to refine her image on the world stage.
The U.K. Supreme Court today will start to hear the government appeal of last month's High Court ruling that said only Parliament has the authority to trigger Brexit. Theresa May's administration has argued that it has the power to do that on its own. The earlier decision was a victory for investment manager Gina Miller, who helped bring the case.
When Anne Richards took over M&G Investments in June as its first female CEO, she was charged with stemming the fund's net outflows; it had the highest of any European fund company last year. Flows have stabilized since she began, but the challenge is ongoing. “We’ve got to simplify the business," she says.
Challenging a president
Linda Tsungirirai Masarira is a labor leader-turned-activist who was jailed recently for protesting Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, who's led the country since its independence in 1980. She was thrown into solitary confinement and later released, but she hasn't returned to home to her five children for fear of further retribution. "I kind of realized if I didn't speak, no one else was going to speak out," she says. "I don't even have any weapon, except my voice and my brains."
IBM CEO Ginni Rometty will be one of 16 business leaders to advise Trump on stemming the outflow of U.S. jobs as part of his "Strategic and Policy Forum." Rometty is the only technology CEO to participate and leads a company that Trump has criticized in the past for offshoring jobs and manufacturing products overseas.
Taking center stage
New York's Metropolitan Opera hasn't presented a work written by a woman in 113 years. That drought ended last week with the New York premiere of L'Amour de Loin by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho. She has at times dismissed talk of her gender, but acknowledges that barriers remain in classical music. "Maybe we, then, should speak about it, even if it seems so unbelievable," Saariaho says. "You know, half of humanity has something to say, also."
When longtime U.S. diplomat Robin Raphel employed her trademark diplomacy technique—working outside the embassy compound—in Pakistan, she ran headlong into the U.S.'s global surveillance web. This is the tale of how that collision turned her life upside-down.
To the ends of the earth
On Friday, the largest-ever all-female expedition to Antarctica—76 women with backgrounds in science—set sail to spend 20 days at sea studying the effects of climate change. The voyage is part of the Homeward Bound initiative, an Australian program that wants to increase the share of women in top science jobs worldwide.
First step toward impeachment
Hundreds of thousands of Koreans protested again this weekend to call for President Park Geun-hye's resignation. The mass demonstration followed the introduction of a bill to impeach Park by three opposition parties. Of the National Assembly's 300 members, 171 have already signed the bill, but it will need the support of 28 members from Park's Saenuri Party to pass. The assembly is expected to hold a vote on it Friday.
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