In March 2018 the Taiwan Democracy and Security Project, a part of the U.S.-Asia Security Initiative at Stanford University’s Shorenstein Asia- Pacific Research Center, convened a workshop that examined Taiwan’s place in the evolving security environment of East Asia. Participants from the United States, Taiwan, and elsewhere in Asia were experts on a wide array of economic, diplomatic, and security topics.
The Republic of China on Taiwan has long reserved legislative seats for its indigenous minority, the yuanzhumin. While most of Taiwan’s political institutions were transformed as the island democratized, the dual aborigine constituencies continue to be based on an archaic, Japanese-era distinction between “mountain” and “plains” aborigines that corresponds poorly to current conditions.
Over the past year and more, Taiwan’s political elite has been deadlocked over the question of deepening economic relations with the People’s Republic of China. This controversial issue has led to a standoff between the executive and legislative branches, sparked a frenzy of social activism and a student occupation of the legislature, and contributed to President Ma Ying-jeou’s deep unpopularity.
On Oct. 11-12, 2013, the Taiwan Democracy Project convened a conference on “The Trans-Pacific Partnership and Taiwan’s Future Development Strategy” at Stanford. The meeting was sponsored by the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) and the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC) at Stanford University, and supported with generous funding from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in San Francisco.
New Challenges for Maturing Democracies in Korea and Taiwan takes a creative and comparative view of the new challenges and dynamics confronting these maturing democracies.
Numerous works deal with political change in the two societies individually, but few adopt a comparative approach—and most focus mainly on the emergence of democracy or the politics of the democratization processes. This book, utilizing a broad, interdisciplinary approach, pays careful attention to post-democratization phenomena and the key issues that arise in maturing democracies.
“As two paradigmatic cases of democratic development, Korea and Taiwan are often seen as exemplars of both modernization and democratization. This volume both contributes and moves beyond this focus, looking forward to assess the maturation but also the risks to democracy in both countries. With its strong comparative focus and a sober appreciation of how hard it can be not to just to attain but to sustain democracy, it represents a major contribution."
— Benjamin Reilly, Dean, Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs, Murdoch University
What emerges is a picture of two evolving democracies, now secure, but still imperfect and at times disappointing to their citizens—a common feature and challenge of democratic maturation. The book demonstrates that it will fall to the elected political leaders of these two countries to rise above narrow and immediate party interests to mobilize consensus and craft policies that will guide the structural adaptation and reinvigoration of the society and economy in an era that clearly presents for both countries not only steep challenges but also new opportunities.
Larry Diamond is a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford. He is also Director of Stanford's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. Gi-Wook Shin is Director of the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, the Tong Yang, Korea Foundation, and Korea Stanford Alumni Chair of Korean Studies, and Professor of Sociology at Stanford.
In an article for Foreign Policy, Karl Eikenberry makes the case for the United States to invigorate its relations with Taiwan and outlines the work needed to make this a reality and stabilize security in the Asia-Pacific region.