Loading Events

« All Events

The Role of Digital Power in Estonia and Taiwan in Combating COVID-19

August 13 @ 11:00 am - 12:30 pm

Event Navigation

Weatherhead East Asian Institute


Please join us for a webinar with:

Andrey Makarychev, Visiting Professor Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, University of Tartu, Estonia

Elizabeth Wishnick, Senior Research Scholar, Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University; Professor of Political Science, Montclair State University


Moderated by:

Andrew Nathan, Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science, Columbia University


Taiwan and Estonia are known as digital democracies. As both face threats from neighbors, their degree of digitization typically has been seen as a vulnerability. The DNS attack from Russia that Estonia faced in 2007 brought home the potential for cyberspace to be used as a domain of war. Similarly Taiwan has faced repeated cyberthreats from the People’s Republic of China. Nonetheless, in their successful responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan and Estonia have highlighted the strengths of digital democracy in combating a non-traditional security threat without employing the strongarm tactics of authoritarian states. In this article we reexamine the digital vulnerability of democracies and put forward a conception of digital power to explain the success of Estonia and Taiwan in using their digital prowess to combat COVID-19. On the one hand their reliance on cybertechnology make them particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks, but on the other hand their digital power enhances their global stature and domestic capacity to address threats like COVID-19.


Andrey Makarychev is Visiting Professor at the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, University of Tartu. Before he came to Tartu, he was Alexander von Humboldt Foundation fellow at Institute for East European Studies, Free University of Berlin, as well as Professor of International Relations at the Linguistic University (Nizhny Novgorod, Russia). His research interests include Russian foreign policy discourses, international security and regionalism in EU – Russia common neighborhood. He has worked for the Center for Security Studies & Conflict Research, ETH Zurich (2000-2001) and the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS), Copenhagen (2003-2004). He was visiting fellow at several European and US Research Institutes, among them the Copenhagen Peace Research Institute; Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies (Washington, D.C.); George Mason University, Fairfax, and the JFK Institute for North American Studies, Free University of Berlin. His projects were supported a.o. by Central European University, Budapest; IREX; McArthur Foundation; OSI; NATO Democratic Institutions Fellowship Program.


Elizabeth Wishnick is Professor of Political Science at Montclair State University. Since 2002, she has been a research scholar at WEAI and she previously taught undergraduate and graduate courses in international relations, Chinese politics, and Chinese foreign policy at Barnard College, Columbia College, and SIPA.

Her current book project, China’s Risk China’s Risk: Oil, Water, Food and Regional Security (forthcoming Columbia University Press) addresses the security consequences of energy, water and food risks in China for its Eurasian neighbors. Dr. Wishnick’s research focuses on Chinese foreign policy and non-traditional security.  She is the author of Mending Fences: The Evolution of Moscow’s China Policy from Brezhnev to Yeltsin (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2001, 2014), articles on Chinese and Russian foreign policy, and studies for the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College on Afghanistan, Central Asia, and the Arctic.  She received a Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University, an M.A. in Russian and East European Studies from Yale University, and a B.A. from Barnard College.

Dr. Wishnick speaks Mandarin, Russian, and French and spent five months in Vladivostok, Russia and Shanghai, China as a part of a Fulbright Global Scholar award in 2018-19. She expects to complete the award in Almaty, Kazakhstan in June 2021. She was previously a Fulbright lecturer in Hong Kong (2002-03) and a visiting scholar at the Academia Sinica in Taiwan (1995-96) as well as at various U.S. institutions (Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, East-West Center, Hoover Institution, and Harvard University’s Davis Center).


This is a Weatherhead East Asian Institute Lectures and Panels event.



August 13, 2020

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM EDT

This event will be streamed live on WEAI’s Facebook page.



Registration not required.



August 13
11:00 am - 12:30 pm
Event Category: