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The first Chinese democracy : political life in the Republic of China on Taiwan /
Linda Chao and Ramon H. Myers.
Baltimore, Md. : Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.
xiv, 372 p. : ill.
0801856507 (alk. paper)
More Details
Baltimore, Md. : Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.
0801856507 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Linda Chao is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Ramon H. Myers is senior fellow and curator-scholar of the East Asian Collection at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1999-01:
Chao and Myers, frequent contributors to scholarly journals on Taiwan's democratization, distill some of their observations from previous research and Taiwan's press and present a chronological account of the growth of this democracy from 1986 to 1996. The book's four parts cover political life under martial law, the lifting of martial law in 1987, partisan political conflict, constitutional reform, and elite convergence, but they focus primarily on the initial steps of democratization from 1986 to 1992. Vignettes of leaders and their views on Taiwan's democratic transition, drawn from early 1990s interviews, enliven the discussion. Chao and Myers explain why Taiwan's elite decided to establish first a "limited democracy", i.e., an "inhibited center [is] committed to promoting full democracy but with a timetable." They describe how a political opposition began to challenge the regime and led to the establishment of an authentic democracy. Finally, they assess the process that enabled Taiwan's transition to a "subordinated center" (or democracy). Of the two approaches to Taiwan's democratization--the top down (authoritarian withdrawal) and the bottom up (grassroots democratic mobilization) thesis--Chao and Myers definitely side with the former. More comprehensive than Jaushieh Wu's Taiwan's Democratization (CH, Oct '95) but less analytically rigorous than Hung-MaoTien, ed., Taiwan's Electoral Politics and Democratic Transition (1997). Undergraduate and graduate collections. G. A. McBeath; University of Alaska Fairbanks
Review Quotes
"A lucidly written interpretative history of political change in Taiwan from the late 1940s to the mid-1990s... [It] is a valuable study that raises important issues for further investigation and analysis."-- American Review of Politics
"An important book-length analysis and review of one of the most interesting and significant phenomena in recent Chinese politics: the gradualist and largely successful path of democratization in Taiwan in the 1980s and 1990s."-- Journal of Asian Studies
"A work of lasting value that will long stand as the authoritative account of the politics of democracy-building in Taiwan. Although Taiwan has yet to meet the ultimate test of a democracy -- the peaceful transfer of power from the dominant party to an opposition party -- Chao and Myers's detailed research suggests that solid foundations have been laid which in time will make such development possible, even likely. They have not only humanized the Taiwan story, but reminded us that the building of democracy depends upon greatness in leadership."--Lucian Pye, Journal of Democracy
"This detailed account and astute analysis of political events of the Republic of China provides a balanced appraisal of China's first experiment with democracy."-- American Historical Review
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, January 1999
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Main Description
The political transformation of Taiwan from an authoritarian regime into a democracy is one of the great political sagas of the 20th century. Defeated on the China mainland, the Kuomintang established a new polity on Taiwan that allowed for four remarkable patterns of political development. These patterns reflect a complex political process of behavioral and institutional change in which the key requisites for democracy now exist in Taiwan. Taiwan's history of citizen participation in direct elections, along with the political institutional changes narrated here by Chao and Myers, produced an unprecedented, peaceful political turn-over of power from the KMT ruling party to the DPP, or Democratic Progressive Party, in March 2000.
Unpaid Annotation
The political transformation of Taiwan from an authoritarian regime based on martial law into a democracy based on a constitution created in mainland China and revised to suit Taiwan's unique circumstances is one of the great political sagas of the 20th century. Defeated on the China mainland, the Kuomintang underwent reform and established a new polity on Taiwan that allowed for four remarkable patterns of political development.First, since 1950 the Kuomintang has engaged in a top-down, guided democratic process and gradually tolerated an opposition-driven, bottom-up democratization process. Second, a significant number of politicians in the Kuomintang and opposition internalized ideological-cultural adjustments that meshed with the practice of democracy. Third, local elections became institutionalized, and eventually became national elections, which were then institutionalized by the mid 1990s. Finally, increased commitment to democracy and pressure from the opposition made it possible for a majority of
Table of Contents
List of Illustrationsp. ix
List of Tablesp. xi
Prefacep. xiii
Posing the Problem: The Democratization of a Chinese Societyp. 1
Political Life under Martial Lawp. 19
Building a New Partyp. 21
The "Inhibited" Political Centerp. 45
Legitimating a Political Oppositionp. 72
The Lifting of Martial Lawp. 101
Chiang Ching-kuo and the Decision to Democratizep. 103
Political Conflict and Lifting Martial Lawp. 128
Political Conflict and Partial Reconciliationp. 151
The First Election after the Lifting of Martial Lawp. 153
Democracy's First Crisisp. 176
Achieving a Partial Political Settlementp. 196
Constitutional Reform and Elite Convergencep. 217
Preparing for Constitutional Reformp. 219
Reforming the Constitutionp. 242
Resolving Political Disagreementsp. 265
Conclusion: The Evolution of the First Chinese Democracyp. 295
Notesp. 305
Bibliographyp. 361
Indexp. 365
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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