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(ISSN 0742-5929)
Vol. II April, 1994
Copyright 1994 .American Association for Chinese Studies
THE CULTURAL E.<\CTOR STILL COUNTS
Richard L. Walker
DVNAl\HCS OF DEVELOPMENT IN TAIWAN: RECONCEPTUAUZING STATE
AND MARKET IN NATIONAL COMPETITIVENESS
Cal Clark
SPECIAL CHARACrERISTICS OF TAIWANESE ENTREPRENEL'RSHIP
Chi-an Chuang
STATE-BuSINESS RELATIONS AND TAIWAN'S MAINLAND ECONOMIC
No.1
1
9
29
POtley. 0 0 0 0... 43
Tse-Kang Leng
TAIWAN'S CURRENT SCRPLUS AND INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL MARKET
LINKA.GES ............................. 0 0 65
Rama Seth and Robert N McCauley
A CHECKERED Lu'E: YUNG WING'S A\1ERICAN EDUCATION
Paul W Harris
BOOK REVIEWS
\VESTAD, ODD ARNE, COLD TflAR AND REVOLUTiON: SOVIET-AMERICAN
87
RIvALRY AND THE ORf(JINS OF THE CHINESE OWL TflAR ....... 0 0 109
Andrew Moellmer
GONCHAROV, SERGEI No, JOHN W. LEWIS, AND XUE LITAl, UNCERTAIN
PAR'l?I/ERS: STAIIl'v; lV/AO, AND THE KOREAN 1fAR . .......... 0 III
Cynthia A. Preston
ZIn) LING, RURAL REFORIW AND PEASANT INCOME I.iV CHINA:
THE IMPACT OF CH7NA PosT-lWAo RURAL REFORMS IN
S.E'LECTEl)
WANG XIAOQIANG AND EAI NANFENG, THE POVER7Y OF PLENTy........ 113
Maria Hsia Chang
April 1994] BOOK REVIEWS 125
HIJNC .... CHAO TAl, ed. Confucianism and Economic Development: An
Oriental Alternative? Washington, D.C.: Washington Institute, 1989.
x + 233 pages. $22.95 doth.
Unlike most collections of essays, Confucianism and Economic De-
velopment is interesting and informative. It does not answer the
question of whether Confucianism might serve as an "Oriental al-
ternative" to industrialization and modernization along Western
lines, but then the editor warned us that not only did the several
authors in the collection employ different methodologies and per-
spectives, they each a<;sumed a different position. The result could
be fully anticipated: "they reach no common conclusions" (p. 4).
\Vhy this should have been so is self-evident. Attempting to
identify and isolate cultural influences in any historic sequence is a
thankless task that is enormously difficult.
In the very first place, no one in the collection attempted to
define culture with any precision. It is very uncertain what culture
might be taken to mean. Few authors, of course, ever embark on
anything like a rigorous definition. In the collection here under
review, no systematic attempt is made to define cultural factors
other than to refer to them as Confucianism, the "Chinese cultural
order," or "Oriental culture" (pp. 7, 12). Siu-Iun \--\long speaks of
Confucianism, understood in the broad sense, as a "cultural ethos"
(p. 167). Edward F. Hartfield speaks of "Chinese culture" (p. 98),
and Kuo-hui Tai speaks of "traditional Chinese culture" or Con-
fucianism (p. 70). It is not clear that aU those complex notions
refer to anything like the same thing.
In general, we are offered an incomplete catalog of traits like
familism 'with its "five sets of relationships," diligence, frug'dlity,
obedience, social discipline and the primacy of integrative values.
It is difficult to translate such terms into relatively specific pattelns
of behavior in the vastly different environments in which they are
played out.
The difficulty is compounded by the recognition, shared by al-
most all the authors, that Confucianism, however it was under-
stood, was constantly undergoing reinterpretation, both in the past
and in the modem period. In a fascinating essay of interpretation,
Kuo-hui Tai reminds us that Shibusawa Eiichi, japan's "father of
industrial capitalism," "gave Confucianism a new meaning" (p. 73)
in the service of his enterprise. Hartfield calls our attention to the
fact that Confucianism, while possessing a core of values, was prac-
126 AMERICAN JOURNAL OF CHINESE STUDIES [Vol. 2:109
ticed in different Confucian societies in different ways" (p. 106).
Not only that, but within the same society, the "social orientation
may change over time" (p. 107) . Confucianism was selectively
adapted to meet the challenges of social, economic and political
change. Thus, the empirical data cited by Wen-lang Li suggests to
him that Taiwanese entrepreneurs and their behavior are tradition-
alistic in so far as they conform to "some of Confucius' normative
expectations" (p. 129), meaning that they have selectively adapted
Confucianism to their needs. There was compliance wherever
Confucian normative enjoinments were not manifestly
dysfunctional.
Siu-Iun Wong conceives the Chinese as being eminently prag-
matic and their cosmology as abundantly eclectic allowing them to
become "adept borrowers of foreign practices" (p. 169). Hang-
sheng Cheng argues that "few people [are] more down-to-earth
than the Chinese" and "generalizations based on philosophy and
ideology are perilous. Although Confucian philosophy has had a
strong hold on the Chinese mentality, the Chinese are ... remarka-
bly pragmatic" (p. 60).
We have then an uncertain variable, Chinese or Confucian cul-
ture, conceived as a factor in the rapid industrialization and eco-
nomic growth of Japan and the East Asian "mini-dragons." It is a
factor known to undergo regular mutation and reinterpretation
that must operate in rapidly changing circumstances. Everything
becomes mercurial and fugitive.
That having been said, the collection of essays is a veritable
storehouse of information, speculation and suggestive insights.
The essay by Yuan-Ii Wu and Hung-chao Tai, "Economic Perform-
ance in Five East Asian Countries: A Comparative Analysis," is a
repository of statistical information that is enormously helpful in
outlining the phenomenal rates of growth that have characterized
the five economies under consideration. The es..o;;ay by Kuo-hui Tai,
a study of the "nea-Confucian" fnfluence of Shibusawa Eiichi, and
Shibusawa's subsequent development of a rationale for industrial
development in Japan, is worth the price of the volume. The essays
on the economic modernization and industrialization of the Re-
public of China on Taiwan, by I-ting Wong and Wen-lang Li, each
dealing v,rith different aspects of the process are dear, precise and
insightful. The essays by Young-iob Chung, Siu-Iun Wong and
Thomas Bellows on the Republic of Korea, Hong Kong and Singa-
April 1994] BOOK REVIEVVS 127
pore, respectively, provide the reader with a wealth of information
and plausible interpretation.
The collection dearly does not answer the question of the role
of Confucianism in the economic performance of the newly indus-
trialized East J-\.-:;ian nations. We still have the puzzle of Mainland
China, the home of Confucianism, enjoying only feeble economic
growth and development before the 1980s and 1990s, and then un-
dertaking one of the most impressive contemporary tr<'Yectories of
expansion and modernization.
Nor does the collection answer the question of whether there is
an "Oriental alternative" to something caned "Western industIiali-
zation." In fact, it is not at all dear that there is something that can
be uniquely called Western industrialization any more than there is
something that can be uniquely identified as Confucianism, Chi-
nese culture or an Oriental alternative.
This reviewer has no reservations in recommending this collec-
tion. The book certainly merits a place in any library devoted to
contemporary economic issues in East Asia. Like all good books,
the collection of essays raises more questions than it answers.
Sophal Ear
University of California, Berkeley