Paul Jobin • Frank Muyard
Mid-Term Analysis of the Ma Ying-jeou Administration: The Difficulty of Delivering the (Right) Goods
Since his election as Taiwan’s president in 2008, Ma Ying-jeou has embarked on an active policy of rapprochement with China, leading to the signing of a string of economic and technical agreements with Beijing that have further liberalised and normalised cross-strait economic relations. But the way this rapprochement has been conducted, coupled with the economic crisis that has struck Taiwan for most of the first two years of Ma’s administration and a series of missteps and mismanagements by the president and the Kuomintang (KMT) government, have generated a crisis of confidence and widespread discontent among the Taiwanese. This has resulted in consistently low approval ratings and several setbacks in regional and by-elections in 2009 and 2010, as well as the resurgence of a reformed opposition under the leadership of Tsai Ing-wen. The discrepancy between Ma’s increasingly apparent Chinese nationalism and the Taiwan-centred national identity of the majority is further indication of a significant disconnect between the KMT administration and the Taiwanese mainstream.
The New Détente in the Taiwan Strait and Its Impact on Taiwan’s Security and Future: More Questions than Answers
At first glance, the current detente between Beijing and Taipei has been a welcome development for all parties involved in the security of the Taiwan Strait: Taiwan, China, and the United States. However, this is an armed détente in which security issues have yet to be addressed. While accelerated economic integration is allowing China to exert increasing influence over Taiwan, the threat of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has continued to intensify unabated. Taiwan’s defence effort has been stagnating in spite of the recent US package announcement, and Taiwan’s will to fight depends more and more directly upon the US commitment to Taiwan’s security. This commitment has remained strong. But the PLA’s rapid modernisation drive, coupled with China’s growing influence over Taiwan, its politicians, its business people, and its society at large, have triggered a new debate in Washington about both the sustainability of the US security commitment, enshrined in the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), and its very raison d’être. As a result, more questions remain unanswered.
The Taiwanese Economy After the Miracle: An Industry in Restructuration, Structural Weaknesses
The Taiwanese economic miracle is over. At the end of the 1980s, changes in macroeconomic conditions forced Taiwanese industry to restructure. While it moved towards information technology, the island became increasingly tied to the mainland. By speeding up the integration of Taiwan with China by means of a China-Taiwan economic zone, President Ma Ying-jeou hopes to restart growth, but the economic and political consequences of the project are causing controversy.
Hazards and Protest in the “Green Silicon Island”: The Struggle for Visibility of Industrial Hazards in Contemporary Taiwan
This paper presents the struggle of several actors, from environmental NGOs to labour activists, to make industrial hazards more socially visible. After an overview of the key issues in Taiwan’s environmental movement since the democratic transition of the mid-1980s, the second part focuses on labour NGOs, an original form of mobilisation pushing for reform of the compensation scheme for occupational hazards. The cases presented cover different industries—including nuclear, chemical, electronics, etc.—various pollutants, and their consequences on public health such as lung diseases diseases and cancers.
Who Cares for Unions? Public Attitudes toward Union Power in Taiwan, 1990-2005
This paper studies how the general public in Taiwan evaluates the power of unions and which groups of the population support stronger unionisation. We intend to compare changes in attitudes toward union strength in two ways. First, we examine whether macro-economic or political dynamics created changes in attitudes. Secondly, we analyse the direct effects of four types of independent variables on attitudes toward unions (individual or collective level, short-term or long-term), including gender, age, ethnicity, and education. Using four waves of the Taiwan Social Change Survey conducted between 1990 and 2005, we find that support for stronger unions rose markedly between 2000 and 2005, expressing a higher awareness of the role of unions in labour relations, especially in the context of economic crisis or lower economic growth.
Taiwanese Historiography: Towards a “Scholarly Native History”
Historical studies of Taiwan have been moulded by schools of thought of diverse origins that support divergent and opposing readings of the island’s past. The 1990s and the 2000s have seen the emergence of a new scientific history of Taiwan, freed from the patterns of nationalist Chinese historiography. This article focuses on the conditions of elaboration and modalities of writing of this history. It examines in more detail the critical thought and recent work of two Taiwanese historians who seek to grasp, beyond the rigid divisions of political periodisation, certain dynamics of Taiwanese history and invite us to rethink the long-term transition of the island’s society towards the modern era.
Understanding the Nuances of Waishengren: History and Agency
Mau-Kuei Chang • Dominic Meng-Hsuan Yang
In the late 1940s and early 50s, the world witnessed a massive wave of political migrants out of Mainland China as a result of the Chinese civil war. Those who sought refuge in Taiwan with the KMT came to be known as the “mainlanders” or “ waishengren.” This paper will provide an overview of the research on waishengrenin the past few decades, outlining various approaches and highlighting specific political and social context that gave rise to these approaches. Finally, it will propose a new research agenda based on a perspective of migration studies and historical/sociological analysis. The new approach argues for the importance of both history and agency in the study of waishengrenin Taiwan.
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