Taiwan is the freest country in Asia, according to the 2022 Human Freedom Index (HFI).
The index, co-published by the Cato Institute and Fraser Institue, ranked the self-governing, democratic East Asian island 14th out of 165 jurisdictions worldwide by using 83 freedom indicators in the following areas: rule of law, security and safety, movement, religion, association and assembly, expression and information, relationships, size of government, legal system and property rights, sound money, freedom to trade internationally, and regulation.
On a scale of 1-10, the index gave Taiwan a score of 9.9 on religion, 9.5 on security and safety, 9.4 on relationships and 9.4 on association, assembly and civil society.
The nation received a perfect score 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” and the freedom to own foreign currency.
However, Taiwan performed the worst in the freedom to trade internationally category, with a score of 6.3, due to trade barriers and black-market exchange rates.
Taiwan also faced challenges in the legal system and property rights, with a score of 6.3 in the enforcement of legal contracts, 6.4 in shortage of impartial courts and 6.5 in insufficient judicial independence.
It was also noted that Taiwan needs improvement in the area of the size of the government and the legal system and property rights.
Japan, which ranked 2nd freest in Asia, is placed 16th in the global ranking, while South Korea (third in Asian) is placed at 30th in the world.
The 2022 Human Freedom Index (HFI), which covered 98.1% of the global population, highlighted the discrepancy in freedom distribution, noting that only 13.4% of the population lives in the top quartile of jurisdictions while 39.9% lives in the bottom quartile.
The top 10 countries identified in the index to have the highest levels of freedom were Switzerland, New Zealand, Estonia, Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, Iceland, Finland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
Other notable index rankings include Canada at rank 13, Germany at 18, the United Kingdom at 20, the United States at 23, France at 42, Ukraine at 89, India at 112, Russia at 119, Nigeria at 124, China at 152, Saudi Arabia at 159 and Iran at 162.
The regions where levels of freedom are the highest are in Western Europe, North America and Oceania, while the lowest levels are in the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
The report also pointed out that those in the top quartile of freedom enjoy an average per capita income of $48,644, which is significantly higher than those in the least free quartile, which have an average per capita income of $11,566.
Research nonprofit Freedom House, which also tracks global trends in political rights and civil liberties, similarly gave Taiwan a high 94 out of 100 in freedom rating in its 2022 report.
The report attributed the score to its peaceful transfers of power and civil liberties protection.
It also noted “ongoing concerns” such as the exploitation of foreign migrant workers and the Chinese government’s efforts to influence different facets of government and media.