Separated from China since 1895 and only reunified briefly with China between October 25, 1945 and 1949, Taiwan is the only part of Chinese society in the last 5,000 years of Chinese history to have democratized, argue Hoover Institution fellows Linda Chao and Ramon H. Myers in The First Chinese Democracy: Political Life in the Republic of China on Taiwan now available from The Johns Hopkins University Press ($45).
In their examination of a half century of Taiwan’s political life, Chao and Myers describe how refugees from the Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) and the Nanking government ruled through almost four decades of martial law, yet nurtured an embryonic democratic process that matured into a full democracy with national elections for a president on March 23, 1996.
To elucidate and explain that complex process of democratization, Chao and Myers identify four patterns of political developments that made Taiwan’s democracy very different from that of other democratizing nations: a responsible opposition that courageously struggled for democracy, an evolving political culture that became compatible with the practices of democracy, competing political parties participating in open, free and fair elections, and a widely shared respect amongst political elites for a constitution.
Linda Chao, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, holds a master’s degree in library science from San Jose State University.
Ramon H. Myers is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and curator of the Institution’s East Asian Collection. His many books include The Japanese Wartime Empire, 1931-1945 and The Japanese Informal Empire in China. He earned a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Washington. The First Chinese Democracy: Political Life in the Republic of China on Taiwan is available from The Johns Hopkins University Press 1-800-537-5487.