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Taiwan rated freest country in Asia in 2022 Human Freedom Index

02/01/2023 06:08 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, Feb. 1 (CNA) Taiwan was rated the freest country in Asia according to the 2022 Human Freedom Index (HFI) published on Tuesday, ranking 14th out of 165 jurisdictions around the world.

The index, jointly published by the Cato Institute and Fraser Institute, ranked the level of freedom in countries and territories based on 83 criteria spread across 12 categories.

They are rule of law; security and safety; movement; religion; association, assembly and civil society; expression and information; relationships; size of government; legal system and property rights; sound money; freedom to trade internationally; and regulation.

Taiwan had the most freedom when it comes to religion, scoring 9.9 on a scale of 1-10, followed by security and safety (9.5), relationships (9.4), and association, assembly and civil society (9.4).

The nation scored a perfect mark of 10 for freedom of assembly, same-sex relationships, the freedom to "divorce," the absence of "female genital mutilation," the absence of "direct attacks on the press" -- referring to members of the press being killed or jailed -- and the freedom to own foreign currency.

The area in which Taiwan performed worst was the freedom to trade internationally, scoring 6.3.

This is due to tariffs, regulatory trade barriers and black-market exchange rates, according to the index.

The area in which the nation fared second-worst was legal system and property rights, which was mainly due to less-than-ideal "enforcement of legal contracts" (6.3), a shortage of "impartial courts" (6.4) and insufficient "judicial independence" (6.5).

Meanwhile, Taiwan needs to make improvements in the category of the size of government, where the nation scored 5.2 points for government consumption, 7 points for top marginal tax rate, and 7.5 points for state ownership of assets.

According to the institutes, the index is the most comprehensive freedom index, covering 98.1 percent of the world's population.

"The data show that there is an unequal distribution of freedom in the world, with only 13.4 percent of the world's population living in the top quartile of jurisdictions in the HFI and 39.9 percent living in the bottom quartile," the institutes said.

The countries that took the top 10 places, in order, were Switzerland, New Zealand, Estonia, Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, Iceland, Finland, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.

With the exception of New Zealand, all the top 10 were European countries.

Canada ranked 13, Japan 16, Germany 18, the United Kingdom 20, the United States 23, South Korea 30, France 42, Ukraine 89, India 112, Russia 119, Nigeria 124, China 152, Saudi Arabia 159, and Iran 162.

The regions with the highest levels of freedom are Western Europe, North America, and Oceania, while the lowest levels are in the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, according to the institutes.

The institutes found that jurisdictions in the top quartile of freedom enjoy a significantly higher average per capita income (US$48,644) than those in other quartiles, while the average per capita income in the least free quartile is $11,566.

"The HFI also finds a strong relationship between human freedom and democracy," according to the institutes.

(By Chang Hsiao-wen and Sean Lin)


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