The Taiwan Democracy and Security Project was completed in summer 2019.
Taiwan has undergone a peaceful transition to democracy over a period of more than a decade. Today, Taiwan is one of the freest and most vibrant democracies in Asia. Nevertheless, Taiwan's democracy still faces steep internal and external challenges. Some of these are common to many emerging and established democracies in Asia and beyond, including widespread popular dissatisfaction with elected leaders and corruption of public officials. Others are unique to the island’s ambiguous status in international affairs and its complicated relationship with the authoritarian People’s Republic of China.
Initiated in 2005 with generous support from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in San Francisco, the Taiwan Democracy Project was housed for twelve years at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL). In Fall 2017, the project returned to its original home at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC) and became part of APARC's U.S.-Asia Security Initiative (USASI). Back at APARC, its focus shifted to examine the challenges of democracy and security and it was renamed the Taiwan Democracy and Security Project.
The project sponsored a variety of activities examining democratic political and social change and the regional and international challenges confronting democracy in Taiwan, including the problem of cross-Strait relations. The principal elements of the project were:
Annual Conference on Taiwan Democracy: Each year the project organized at least one public conference addressing some of the challenges confronting Taiwan's democratic development, in comparative perspective. The most recent conference, held in March 2017, brought together leading political scientists from Taiwan, the United States, and elsewhere to examine the state of democracy in Taiwan at the end of the presidency of Ma Ying-jeou (2008-2016). Speaker Series: The project held lectures, seminars, and panel discussions by Taiwanese public officials, intellectuals, and scholars, and by U.S.-based scholars of Taiwan and of cross-Strait relations. Previous speakers have addressed a wide range of topics, including cross-Strait relations, Taiwan’s foreign policy and quest for international space, constitutional reforms, local and national elections, the development of judicial politics, the rise of student movements, and cross-Strait economic ties. Visiting Fellows: The project hosted occasional visiting diplomats, policy-makers, and scholars who are researching and writing about various aspects of Taiwan's democratic development and policy processes. Summer Internship Program: Each summer the project placed one Stanford undergraduate in an unpaid policy or research internship with a research institution, government agency, or non-governmental organization in Taiwan. The internship related in some way to the mission of the Taiwan Democracy Project: to examine political and social change and the challenges confronting Taiwan’s continued democratic development, including the issue of cross-Strait relations. Taiwan Democracy Resources Archive: The project also served as a clearinghouse for online resources about Taiwan. These include links to academic databases, journals, Chinese-language library portals, news sites, government agencies, political parties, and policy institutes. In addition, the project maintains connections with a global network of Taiwan Studies programs, fostering interaction and collaboration among scholars, policy-makers, and students interested in aspects of Taiwan’s democracy.