Taiwan Interview Series (1): Ho Cheng-hui, CEO of Kuma Academy

February 20, 2023

“Taiwan Interview Series” is a result of a China Change team going around Taiwan for 30 days in November and December 2022. The time frame for the trip was deliberately chosen to observe the local elections against the backdrop of China’s military threat, and to take measure of Taiwanese attitudes towards totalitarian China as they enjoy their robust democracy. In this interview series you will hear directly from some of the people I’ve talked to. The goal of the Taiwan Interview Series is to bring outside audiences a better understanding of Taiwan, because the potential war wouldn’t just be a war to decide the fate of a small island, nor would it be fought between China and Taiwan only. It will be our war too. Whether or not we prevail will be consequential and will reshape history.

Kuma Academy (黑熊學院) is a new civil society organization in Taiwan that provides civil emergency response training programs to prepare the population for a potential invasion from China. — The Editors

In Chinese, with English subtitles.

Or, listen to the interview in translation (male voice only)

Yaxue Cao (曹雅學): First question, Mr. Ho, tell us a little bit about your background.

Ho Cheng-hui (何澄輝): I studied law in college, and then I was a civil servant for several years, after passing Taiwan’s national exams for civil service. Then I went to graduate school. And after that I studied abroad. I studied in Germany and the Netherlands.

Traditionally, Taiwanese law students preferred to study in Germany, because Taiwan’s legal system has borrowed a lot from Germany so legal scholars preferred to study in Germany.

Around 2006 when I was studying in Germany China promulgated the “Anti-Secession Law.” Taiwanese students in Europe mounted protests for the first time I took part in it too. We had had little prior awareness of the Taiwan issue in the world and China’s threat to Taiwan.

The protests across Europe had a big impact on overseas Taiwanese students. We realized that Taiwan was not as secure as we’d thought before.

In 2000, Taiwan had just had its first-ever change of ruling party, the first ever Democratic Progressive Party administration. At the time the Taiwanese had the illusion that the country was now a functioning democracy, and democracy would not regress and Taiwanese politics would be like any other democracy.

But we forgot the China factor. We didn’t realize it until we studied abroad. After that we started paying closer attention to the Taiwan issue. Following this awakening, I moved to Leiden University in the Netherlands to do East Asia regional studies with a focus on Taiwan. Our program was part of the studies on contemporary China. That’s my academic background. 

YC: This is the first time I heard the “Anti-Secession Law.” What does it say about Taiwan?

Ho: It was the first time China began to lay out the “three warfares”: information warfare, psychological warfare, and legal warfare. For the first time China codified its view of Taiwan independence, Taiwan’s rejection of reunification is not only illegal, but also a legal basis for China to launch military aggression or political suppression.

To be honest, looking back the then-Communist Party leader Hu Jintao was relatively moderate. But starting then, we’ve also realized that the issue is going to be an impasse. For China, especially the Chinese Communist Party, its political legitimacy, works differently from Taiwan.

Since Taiwan’s democratization, the legitimacy of any Taiwanese government comes from democracy. If it performs poorly, it can be replaced through elections. It can also regain the trust of the people and govern the country again.

The legitimacy of modern democracies comes from democracy, but not so in the case of the CCP regime. Its narrative of legitimacy can only be based on two things. Since the Reform and Opening Up, its narrative of legitimacy touts economic achievement claiming the Party has lifted Chinese people out of poverty, China had entered international markets, and the national strength has grown. China’s high annual GDP is the basis for CCP’s legitimacy.

But since late in Hu’s term and Xi Jinping’s 10-year tenure, rapid growth has become unattainable. Frankly, it’s more of a political concept than an economic one, more like a myth because no economic model supports perpetually high growth.

When that narrative fades, the regime resorts to a nationalist narrative. So they’ve moved the narrative from economic development to nationalism as the source of legitimacy for the CCP’s rule. To this end, they must crack down on domestic dissent under the labels of subversion or secession. And they will put Taiwan on the agenda. In the past it was a political issue to be resolved through “One Country Two Systems,” not prioritized over economic development.

But in Xi’s era, especially when the CCP’s legitimacy is weakened, it will be more inclined to put Taiwan on agenda. As a result, “reunification” with Taiwan gains urgency as a means of reinforcing Xi’s legitimacy. Especially as he enters his third term, breaking the Party’s tacit rule, he would need this part in particular. That’s why many of us in Taiwan, also international think tanks, believe Taiwan faces a rapidly increasing risk of war.   

YC: What did you do after coming back from Europe?

Ho: After coming back I for a short period worked at a DPP think tank. But my research back then focused on finance and nation building. This of course involves Taiwan’s security, including industrial security, national security, and political security in the region.

YC: Where did the idea for Kuma Academy come from?

Ho: In April 2021, Prof. Shen Bo-yang (沈伯洋) and I, later the co-founder of Kuma Academy, appeared on a podcast called pourquoi.tw to talk about Taiwan’s security and regional security. When we took stock of Taiwan’s security in the event of war, we realized that, even though for over 70 years, Taiwan has been preparing for military threat from China, but this society has lived in peace for 70 years, and the idea of war is unthinkable and alien. Compared to the military’s preparation, Taiwanese civilians are poorly prepared.

After the show, Prof. Shen and I talked for another 4 or 5 hours in a cafe. We were very concerned and felt we must do something. That’s how we began. We found three other partners, a total five of us. We all had our own jobs at the time, and we began to set up Kuma Academy.  

The first grant we got was from Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, T$50,000. Very little [about US$1,700]. So we started at the end of 2021, mainly offering forums and courses until early 2022. But what could T$50,000 do? By then we were T$210,000 in debt. But we believed we should continue, so we started a crowdfunding campaign in July. We had thought the public wasn’t keen on this, but to our surprise, it wasn’t so. From July to August, our initial goal was – we set a goal for each phase as the crowdfunding platform required us to raise fund in phases – the goal for the first phase was T$1 million, and with that we could continue for another year.

But to our surprise, from 1,417 donors, we raised over T$4,700,000, nearly 5 million (US$150,000). We were very happy knowing that we could definitely continue until the end of 2023, and even afford a full-time clerk to deal with clients. That’s how we started. 

YC: So what’s the idea behind Kuma Academy? What does it do exactly?

Ho: Simply put, we believe we are giving the Taiwanese their first lesson of all-out civilian defense preparedness. We all know the danger of war, but modern war is different from the war we see on TV, and it will affect the entire society. Defense is not limited to military defense, it also involves society and non-military government entities on all levels. All-out civilian defense means we must strengthen the ability of society and other government entities to withstand war.  

We talk about social resilience when faced with war. This is the part we want to strengthen to prepare the population.

War is a real possibility, and not something that Taiwan can actively avoid. That choice is up to Xi Jinping, not what we do or do not do. As long as his legitimacy is threatened, as I just explained, as long as he is under pressure to maintain power, he could start a war using any justification.

However, many Taiwanese believe that as long as Taiwan doesn’t promote independence, there won’t be war. This is not the case. If China wants to launch a war, it alone will define whether you are proponent of Taiwan independence, or secession, whether you are hostile to China When faced with such a risk that we can’t control or mitigate.

What do we do? At Kuma Academy, we stress one thing. When faced with danger, humans become fearful for two reasons. One is the unknown. You don’t know what the danger is like, so you amplify it unreasonably until it crushes you. The other is unpredictability. You don’t know when danger will strike. Faced with such a modern risk, we often say, the best thing to do is to manage the risk, just like in life, driving is very convenient but has risk too. What to do? You have to maintain your car regularly; you have to buy insurance. That’s risk management. Be prepared, knowing where potential dangers are and prepare for them.

Managing the danger of a war is the same. Kuma Academy provides the population courses about the kind of attacks or threats, you may face and how you should prepare and respond. This is our basic goal.

YC: What is the curriculum like?

Ho: We designed multi-stage courses, but the focus now is on the first stage. That is, the foundational courses. We offer foundational courses and advanced courses, and in the future we’ll have specialty courses but I’ll leave that out for now, since the specialty courses will correspond to Taiwan’s existing programs, including certification and other professional training programs. Kuma Academy will not provide them directly; instead, we will seek collaboration with other organizations, or send our graduates to other professional training programs. So we focus now on basic courses and advanced courses.

The basic courses teach the most basic things you need to know. In a war, what’s the first thing you need to do? It’s to protect yourself. You must know how to protect yourself, then you protect people around you, your family, children, loved ones, even your pets, before you do anything else using your ability and skills to support the war effort. So we have four basic courses.

The first course is to teach the basics about military operations. As we said before, if you don’t know what dangers you might have to face, you would have a lot of misconceptions that cause anxiety, confusion, and chaos. So this course teaches you what modern warfare looks like and how to deal with a strategy that China frequently uses, that is, using military disinformation to intimidate Taiwan.

We know China has developed a set of methods against Taiwan. They know very well that buying Taiwan is preferable to attacking Taiwan; deceiving Taiwan is preferable to buying Taiwan; and menacing Taiwan is preferable to deceiving Taiwan. So menacing Taiwan is China’s main approach.

Meanwhile, military disinformation is harder to debunk, because average people know little about military technologies that are highly technical and sophisticated. Average people can easily be intimidated by such information that mix truth and falsehood to reach the wrong conclusions. The course teaches people what modern warfare is like, how to detect the lies, build the will to resist, and grow more confident.

The second course is about political warfare. In recent years research institutions around the world have found that Taiwan is the biggest target of China’s cognitive warfare, or fake information. Taiwan society is filled with all sorts of fake information. So this class tells people how cognitive warfare works, how it attempts to influence your perceptions and judgment. We teach people how to use existing tools to verify information.

The third class is longer, because it involves hands-on learning. In addition to theory, it involves actual practice. We call it emergency medical response. We all know that once war breaks out, sanitary conditions will deteriorate, so you have to know how to maintain basic hygiene. Also when war breaks out around you, civilians or soldiers may get injured and you have to know how to dress a wound and stop the bleeding. So the class teaches people how to do that using a system proven effective by the U.S. military on the battlefield. That is, how to use a tourniquet, how to bandage a wound. When you have broken bones, how to set them. But more importantly, how to transport the wounded, moving the wounded from danger zones, or hot zone, to safety where they can await further aid.

This class teaches how one or two people can move the wounded with or without tools. For this class there are actual practices. You have to be able to use a tourniquet fast, not slow because hemorrhage can cause death quickly, and deft and quick use of tourniquet can save many lives. So we put a lot of emphasis on this.

The last class is disaster management. If war breaks out, we just said the first thing is to protect yourself. In the event of a missile strike or air raid, do you know where the emergency shelters are? First of all, we must know where they are. You have to know where the shelters are near your residence, near your workplace, but also during your commute or travel.

Taiwan actually has a lot of designated air defense shelters. They are mostly the basement of buildings, including our subway. Taiwan’s subway is an excellent emergency shelter. Its exits have signs indicating its sheltering capacity. Through the class we also hope to evaluate whether Taiwan has sufficient air raid shelters. Many people know where they are, but have you actually checked them out to see if you are able to get there quickly when the siren goes off?

We’ve discovered that many underground bomb shelters have no emergency supplies that can last for a period, like water, food, medicine, and other supplies, or because many of them are underground parking lots, two or three levels underground that depend on ventilation to keep the air flowing. With hundreds of people packed in there, airflow will be bad. But ventilation machines need power and power can be severed when war breaks out, so ventilation will need backup power to keep running.

But many shelters do not meet the standard of wartime shelters. Through discussions, participants evaluate the issues in the form of workshops and how they can plan and prepare for sheltering because Taiwan is different from Ukraine.

We often discuss Ukraine’s wartime experience, but Taiwan is different. Ukraine has long land borders and can open humanitarian corridors to other countries to evacuate refugees. In fact Ukraine has conducted the largest ever refugee evacuation, involving millions of Ukrainians.  

But Taiwan can’t do the same, being a sea-locked island. If Taiwan becomes a war zone, people will have to seek refuge locally, at most evacuate to the countryside, similar to England during World War II.

Seeking refuge locally, what prior preparations do you make? You must have emergency food, drinking water, and medicine. Some people need to stock medicine for chronic diseases. You also have to stock equipment for basic survival. If your community is impacted, you may need to evacuate. You have to have a ready-to-go emergency backpack. This class teaches people how to plan for it, including stocking these emergency supplies and planning your evacuation route with an emergency backpack.   

Through these four basic courses, we give people the basic concepts of civil defense. We don’t say these are all you need to know to face a war. Instead, we say, learning these basics is the start point to prepare for resistance and defense capability. That’s how we look at our basic course offers. Down the road, we will be offering advanced courses corresponding to the four areas.  

We’ve planned and will launch more than 10 advanced classes in the four areas we just discussed. For example, in area of military understanding, the advanced class will teach about China’s political and military institutions, intelligence-gathering, identifying friends from foe, and war games, classes on military knowledge and defense skills.

The cognitive warfare class covers public safety intelligence-gathering, how to debunk disinformation, and how to communicate with the public. The class on emergency response is a higher calling. Taiwan has existing EMT One, EMT Two training programs. The Academy also has advanced emergency aid training. The class on fleeing for safety is going to be interesting.

For example, orienteering or physical fitness, because as you know it requires physical fitness. How you build fitness, how to build defensive skills, not battle skills, but defensive skills, how you protect yourself when under attack.

Another interesting class teaches you what kind of plants you can grow for emergency use, not as your main food source but as nutrition supplement that you can take with you to supplement some of the necessary nutrition. We call it plant growing class and such. We’ll be offering these classes in the future.

Meanwhile we need to test the effectiveness of these classes. Offering classes is not all, and we plan to, in the near future to hold large-scale exercises. We plan to hold the first exercise on January 14, 2023, inviting those who’ve taken the basic and advanced classes to take part carrying their prepared emergency backpack. We will not give them food. They have to eat what they pack with them to test whether they can carry out a one-day evacuation, things like that.

In addition, every other month we hold a forum of experts who speak about the latest defense and international news related to security in particular.

This is Kuma Academy’s plan and what we’ve been doing. We require every participant to take the four basic classes. We recommend the public to take some but not all the advanced classes. They can choose one area that interests them most and put their time and energy into it.

YC: You mentioned tourniquets, backup power for shelters, and etc. All these involve supplies and complex logistical coordination. How do you do that?

Ho: We talked about insufficient supplies of the air raid shelters or how they do not meet the modern standard. Honestly, this needs advocacy. It’s simpler if it’s in the communities because each community has a management committee, and the committees can purchase supplies according to the law, and they can begin to ask to prepare these supplies.

YC: Are there responses?

Ho: I know some of our participants want to advocate this in their communities.

YC: Sure. It’s a process.

Ho: It’s a process. But we’d like to do more to talk to the government to enhance the law or administrative measures. It would be much better. For example, if by law diesel generators can be installed underground and the government establishes regulations, and encourage civil society to install them without the government paying for it, it should be doable. Of course advocacy is needed. We are working with other civil defense organizations and some legislators who care about this issue.

Right now we are working with DPP legislator Lin Ching-Yi, the Chair of the All-out Defense Committee of the Legislative Yuan. We are hoping to work with the Committee to get the government to change the relevant laws and to strengthen our preparedness in this area.  

YC: How has the Tsai Ing-wen administration responded?

Ho: As far as we know, especially since Mr. Tsao Hsing-cheng (曹興誠) committed his financial support, the Tsai administration has been paying attention. We have already had some communications with the government. But to be honest, the first step is the hardest. For the government to implement policies or change the law, it requires a high level of consensus. But time is pressing, the threat of war is dire and there is no time to lose. So our idea is that we the civil society kick start it, get it going, gain experience, and then the government can pick it up. That way it will move very fast.

YC: Now, I don’t mean to get into politics, but the Nationalist Party (KMT), a major party, what’s their position on this?

Ho: Honestly, I must say that their position is rather negative. Their vision of the war and their approach to the threat I think is very dangerous and irresponsible, because they emphasize on “avoiding war.” In other words, they think we should do whatever in exchange for peace. The logic behind this is, the Taiwanese can give up our existing democratic values, or our way of life. I think this is dangerous.

As a matter of fact, to avoid war, as the ancient Romans said, if you want peace, you must prepare for war, not avoid it. The KMT legislators, all of them talk about avoiding war. They are manipulating the fear of danger in human nature. They even say, those who warn of the military threat are like the shepherd boy in Aesop’s Fable who keeps saying “The wolf is coming,” and they are peddling a sense of crisis for public attention.

But I must say, the Aesop’s Fable has a second half, not just the boy crying “The wolf is coming.” In the second half when people cease believing in the warning, the wolf does come and eat the sheep. It’s inevitable.

The KMT’s attitude is very disappointing. In the past it was the ruling party, but I think the way they treat this issue is to let those who care shoulder the responsibility and they themselves have chosen a dangerous path. In the face of war risk, they have not offered any real solutions.

Instead, they are offering false promises as solutions. They are like that whether in the case of the 1992 Consensus or now. There has never been a 1992 Consensus. The 1992 Consensus China talks about is completely different than the 1992 Consensus the KMT speaks of. But the KMT has for all these years evaded this question.

YC: So Kuma Academy is still in an early stage. Even though you have distinct credentials and are highly concerned about the country, you guys are still average citizens — I mean as opposed to the government. It’s extraordinary that a few citizens are embarking on this. So I too am grateful to Mr. Tsao with whom I share the same surname.

Ho: Yes, we are very grateful to him. He noticed the crowdfunding event that I just mentioned.

Around August [2022] he proposed a donation of T$3 billion to upgrade Taiwan’s civil defense capacity, which includes resistance and political warfare and other areas.

YC: That’s great because it’s going to cost money. So no doubt, such support is required. Congratulations. How are Taiwanese responding to it?

Ho: We’ve gone through four rounds of training, thanks to everyone’s support. With each round, as soon as it was announced, it was sold out within an hour. Many of the 1,417 original donors,

I’m very sorry that even though they were guaranteed a spot, the sign-up was so fast, and the seats were grabbed so fast that…

YC: In high demand.

Ho: Yes. We are really thankful.

YC: So far how many people have taken the training?

Ho: So far over 1,000 people have taken the courses. But we feel that we need to move a lot faster, especially after Mr. Tsao committed T$600 million over three years for a three-year plan of training 3 million of Kuma Fighters. That is, he hopes that our basic courses will train about 3 million people across Taiwan.

This is not a random number. When we met discussing how to implement our idea, he asked us how far we plan to implement our idea. So we told him our plan and vision. We believe that, in the face of a potential war, each household should have at least one member who knows how to respond to the war to take care of the family, right? Moreover, this person in the family should not include servicemen, police, firefighters, or medical personnel, because in the event of war these people will serve the military and will not be around to help their families. So this family first responder has to be someone else.

Mr. Tsao asked us how many people we need to train. We told him there are about 9 million households out of Taiwan’s population of 23 million. So ideally we should train at least 9 million people. But we all know that the threat of war is pressing and 9 million is too high a goal.

Mr. Tsao said, for the first stage, can we set up a plan to train 3 million people over three years? So we later worked out a feasible plan.

With his funding, Kuma Academy was able to turn from a 5-person volunteer group into a full-time organization. The founding members like myself quit our previous jobs, I became the CEO of the Academy, committing myself full-time to this endeavor. We also begin to expand our organization.

In response to the high demand, right now we are working on training “seed teachers.” We’ve already started the first round of teachers’ training. They are expected to start teaching next year [2023].

YC: It’s not limited to Taipei…

Ho: No, actually we have already…I just came back from Kaohsiung a few days ago.

Outside Taipei, we’ve offered classes in Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Taichung, Tainan, Kaohsiung. In a few weeks we are going to offer classes in Hualien. People in Taitung are asking us to do it in Taitung.

YC: The high demand reflects people’s concern for the country, doesn’t it?

Ho: It does. For us, it’s pretty exhilarating. When we first started doing this, we thought nobody cared about it. To use a Chinese expression, it’s not something “splendid, marvelous, and posh.” It doesn’t involve exciting things like jets or missiles.

But it is foundational. I believe this is the foundation for all. Of course military defense is part of the defense as a whole, but I think, looking the other way, it’s even more important whether the society can bear the war.  

Take the Russia-Ukraine war. The example I often give is that, when at the beginning of the war, Russian troops advanced directly towards Kyiv the capital within tens of kilometers, the city’s bakeries were still open for six hours, public services continued, postal offices, police stations and hospitals were still operating, and even part of the subway was still running. In areas struck by war, people could still withdraw cash from ATM.

All of these are a huge boost to morale. Because of it, the civilians are able to support soldiers in frontline. The military is successful and brave, but without the determined backing of the public, the war effort would not be able to go on this long, because Russia is the 2nd most powerful military in the world, attacking a country that was rated 22nd in global firepower. By the way, Taiwan was rated 21st in 2021. Taiwan 21st, Ukraine 22nd.

Under the circumstances, what has sustained them? It’s the morale of the society. Where does the morale come from? The population must have the ability to survive to protect themselves and function normally. When war breaks, if the military has to provide disaster relief and save civilian lives, that’s too much of a burden for them. The military should be able to focus on fighting the war itself. The best popular support for the military is for civilians to protect themselves. If the population has extra resources to support the war, that’s even better.

YC: Since November 2021, foreign media outlets have been writing about the possible scenarios of a China invasion of Taiwan. Have you and your people thought about it?

Ho: Yes. I think from last year [2021], even earlier, starting from the US’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Afghan government’s rapid collapse, in Taiwan, some people began messaging, saying such and such place today is tomorrow’s Taiwan. At first, it was today’s Afghanistan is tomorrow’s Taiwan. After the Ukraine war broke out, they said, Ukraine today, tomorrow Taiwan.

Their message is, once there is a war, Taiwan will collapse. It’s their way to terrify Taiwan.

And honestly it is a possibility we must face. But I must say that, if war breaks across the Taiwan Strait, it’s not going to be the same as the war in Ukraine.

Ukraine is different from Taiwan in that Ukraine has long borders with Russia, as long as 1,900 kilometers. Honestly, to invade Ukraine, Russia could walk right into Ukraine. But if China is to invade Taiwan, it has to use ships and airplanes. In other words, if war breaks, the battle for air dominance and sea dominance will be the first scenario.

As for raids on the population, we likely will see something similar to what Russia is doing to Ukraine now, like using missiles to target civilian facilities. But China might carry out some kind of blockade. There are differences from the Ukraine war, and the civilian responses will be different accordingly.

In Ukraine, a major problem was how to evacuate people out of harm’s way. In Taiwan, while we have a defensive advantage, our challenge is how to protect and defend lives. As an island, Taiwan has its disadvantage. You can’t move a large number of people away. At the same time, a blockade could sever supplies, even cut off communications.  

Our advantage is we are an island, and to attack an island is probably the most complicated and difficult warfare. For China to have a rapid victory is going to be very hard. So the key is ourselves. Do we have the will to resist? Are we willing to fight to the end to defend Taiwan?

So the starting point of Kuma Academy is to preserve, to defend ourselves, because we all cherish one thing, for which Taiwan has paid a high price over decades. That is, a free and democratic way of life. The free and democratic way of life, as we all know, cannot be preserved by giving up our dignity and capitulating. That’s impossible. The only thing you can do is to be strong, to prepare for it.

The popular enthusiasm for our training is very encouraging. We thought nobody would really care. In the past, few in Taiwanese society talked about it, civil defense was even less discussed.

But from the response we’ve gotten, people are actually very eager. From the people who have signed up for the training, whether it’s their age or their composition, we see that they love this land, love our way of life, and the values we share with the democratic countries around the world.

YC: Do the participants have special characteristics?

Ho: This is the most interesting part. We often hear an expression that goes “people are from all walks of life and all parts of the country.” That describes our participants. Why? The male-to-female ratio is about 1:1. Some teams have more women than men, with women participants reaching 2/3. There is one class that has 2/3 women.

As far as political inclinations go, it’s not one way or the other, but you can tell that people who are willing to participate are people who care about the public interest. As far as age goes, the youngest member so far is 13.

YC: You don’t have a minimum age?

Ho: No minimum age, and the oldest is 70 years old, a retired doctor.

YC: Can you give me some examples — when they come to the training, what do they say? Why do they want to do this?

Ho: Among the most active participants, including those making inquiries via phone or who are on the waiting list are what we call “the mom group.” Most of them are moms. We also asked them why they want to take the training, what motivates them. They say, in the face of potential war, they must know how to protect their family, their kids. As a result, we are thinking about designing a course to train parents and children together. We encourage parents to take their kids with them.

YC: The supplies you use for training, like tourniquets, where do you purchase them?

Ho: Taiwan has tourniquet manufacturers, but for training, we don’t use real tourniquets. We recommend that people have tourniquets ready, because they can’t be re-used; its strength will diminish. It stops bleeding by applying pressure, but muscle is very strong. When reusing it, its effect will decrease significantly.

So we recommend people to have one in their evacuation backpack, it’s a must-have, in the most accessible place in their backpack, not tied up, for quick and easy reach. What we use in the class are replica tourniquets.

YC: Do you coordinate with companies to start manufacturing these things? They have to be available.

Ho: Yes, we hope companies will do that. There are Taiwanese companies making emergency medical supplies. They have the production and export capacity, and high quality products. So we do hope to call on them.

YC: Well, there is a market now, if each household wants to stock a couple of tourniquets.

Ho: That’s true. As we proceed with our training, we also call on companies to manufacture them, because more and more trainees want to buy them.

YC: Is there effective deterrence from the international community to dissuade Xi Jinping, even though he wants Taiwan badly, to make him recalculate the costs and reconsider the consequences of an invasion?

Ho: I think the biggest deterrent to Xi Jinping is to tell him unequivocally that he’s going to pay a hefty price for attacking Taiwan and that he is going to be met with responses from all quarters.

Xi Jinping knows very well that, to attack Taiwan even with China’s rapidly increasing military power, it’s impossible for him to challenge the U.S. To challenge the U.S., he would have to use the time lag, that is, when he launches an assault on Taiwan before the U.S. and other democracies can react, if he can force Taiwan to capitulate, then he might be able to win the war.

That’s why he’s supporting or creating advocates of capitulation in Taiwan, making sure they are actively speaking in the public arena, or even aiming for the presidency.


A Good Country, A Good People – Thirty Days Around Taiwan, Yaxue Cao, December 31, 2022.

The Choice Facing the Taiwanese People: Moving Towards Greater Enlightenment, or Falling Back to the Dark Age of Dictatorship?, Tsao Hsing-cheng, January 18, 2023.


One response to “Taiwan Interview Series (1): Ho Cheng-hui, CEO of Kuma Academy”

  1. […] may also be interested in our interview with Ho Cheng-hui, CEO of Kuma Academy, a civil emergency response training program for the Taiwanese. Email subscribers will have to […]

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