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Ms. Praewphan Lapchoosanga ID.

M997Z204

Taiwan transition to imagined democracy of community and history

Taiwan or Formosa is a small island lie on China’s south coast side. It’s even
smaller than any of China’s provinces or autonomous regions. Since 1910, Taiwan was
seized by Japan after expelling the Qing dynasty. After that period of time Taiwan’s
economic and administrative infrastructure improved markedly. In 1945, Taiwan was
turned over to the KMT as part of the postwar agreement among the Allied Powers.
KMT rule was seen as liberation from Japanese colonialism. But rising tensions
between a strongly authoritarian KMT with its mainland immigrants and the native
Taiwanese population culminated in four days of unrest beginning on February 28,
1947, which Chinese police arrested, tortured, murdered Taiwanese elite. It left at least
10,000 dead and 30,000 wounded “2/28” which epitomized the collision between
colonization and the reintegration which forever changed KMT rule on Taiwan.

The growth of civil society and social and intellectual pluralism and the
emergence of more liberal values, which place more of an emphasis on freedom and
personal autonomy.( Larry, p.243) These changes generated powerful internal
pressures in Taiwan for democratic change. Taiwan was run as an authoritarian state
under Chiang Kai-shek, KMT leader. But Taiwan’s private ownership and semi
competitive local elections made a far more liberalized regime than Mainland China’s
regime from the beginning. Chiang Ching-kuo, Chiang Kai-shek’s son, rising to
president by 1978 accelerated the liberalization begun in 1969 while keeping a careful
grip on the pace of change.

By 1986, roughly a fifth of seats in the Legislative Yuan and National Assembly
were held by non-KMT figures. In that year, Chiang convinced the KMT leadership to
complete the major political reforms by lifting martial law, legalizing opposition parties,
and expanding direct elections. After that Taiwan began a process of political reform,
Ms. Praewphan Lapchoosanga ID.M997Z204

resulting in better citizen representation and political liberalization. Since 1986, Taiwan
has been culminated in the first free and fair election of the entire Legislative Yuan in
1992. Taiwan’s acceptance of international organization such as General Agreement on
Tariffs and Trade (GATT) or world trade organization (WTO) which made Taiwan face
the pressure of opening their market and adopting international standards. KMT ruled
on Taiwan for 55 years. They continued to set agenda for politic reform since 1980s till
election in 2000 (Yeh: p.48-68). The opposition Democratic Progressive Party in Taiwan
won the presidency, breaking the symbolic link between the governance of Taiwan and
the unification of China that the KMT had long represented in 2000.

With Taiwan's political liberalization in the 1970s and 1980s, opponents of the
KMT encouraged by Taiwan's changing international status, the concept of a
"Taiwanese people" became politicized. Finally in 2000, KMT governmental power
transferred to DPP presidential election (Yeh, p.48-68). The sense of a collective
Taiwanese identity has continued to increase despite fluctuations in support for pro-
independence political parties. This has been cited as evidence that the concept of
Taiwanese identity is not the product of local political manipulation, but an actual
phenomenon of ethnic and sociopolitical identities (Corcuff 2002:137–149).

Taiwan’s development after the war had been changed as a process of national
modernization from agricultural to an industrial economy, from rural to urban society,
from an authoritarian to liberal regime. Such as in 1992, Taiwan’s acceptance of
international organization such as General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) or
world trade organization (WTO) which made Taiwan face the pressure of opening their
market and adopting international standards. After that the foreign trade has been the
engine of Taiwan's rapid growth during the past 40 years. Taiwan's economy remains
export-oriented, thus it depends on an open world trade regime and remains vulnerable
to downturns in the world economy.
Ms. Praewphan Lapchoosanga ID.M997Z204

Reference

Corcuff, Stephane (2002), "Taiwan's "Mainlanders": A New Ethnic Category", China


Perspectives no.28 April–June.
Larry Diamond, “Why China’s democratic transition will differ from Taiwan’s” p. 243.
Yeh Jiunn-Rong, “Constitutional Reform and Democratization in Taiwan, 1945-2000”
Taiwan’s Modernization in Global inspective, p.48-68.