Taiwan’s Democracy: Economic and Political Challenges, Edited by Robert Ash, University of London, John Garver, Georgia Institute of Technology and Penelope B. Prime, Mercer University (London and New York: Routledge, 2011).
Taiwan’s rapid industrialization during the 1960s and 1970s, combined with the democratic revolution that began with the lifting of martial law in late 1987 were of deep historic importance. Taiwan’s transition, alongside similar peaceful transitions to democracy in South Korea and the Philippines in East Asia, was part of what Samuel Huntington called “the third wave” of global democratization. The sphere of liberal democracy in East Asia thereby expanded considerably, hammering the final nail in the coffin of the belief that Confucian political culture was incompatible with modern democracy. Over the next decade Taiwan’s “political miracle” matched its earlier “economic miracle” creating a vibrant liberal democracy complete with freedom of speech, association and assembly, rule of law, and competitive and fair multi-party elections.
The continuation of these achievements and the new challenges that have surfaced are addressed in rich detail in the chapters of this volume. One of the biggest such challenges is Mainland China’s economic success, which has added to the complexity of Taiwan’s economic and political policy options. A number of the contributors consider Taiwan’s response to China’s economic rise and show how Taiwanese companies have strategically taken advantage of the changing economic environment by moving up the value chain of production within Taiwan while also taking the opportunity to invest overseas.