Two Societies in Opposition: The Republic of China and the People's Republic of China after 40 years

edited by Ramon H. Myers
Friday, March 1, 1991

The Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan and the mainland People's Republic of China (PRC) have developed as two distinctly different societies over the last forty years.

After 1950, the ROC promoted private enterprise and integrated the domestic and international economies, fostered a gradual process of intellectual pluralism around the doctrine of Sun Yat-sen, and in 1987 lifted martial law and endorsed a free press and political pluralism. The PRC, however, upheld central planning, eschewed economic pluralism, and rejected intellectual pluralism in favor of Marxism-Leninism and Maoist doctrine; its leaders vowed never to allow other parties and institutions to challenge the dictatorship of the Communist party, thus abandoning the road to political pluralism. Why and how did these two societies become so different?

Seeking to answer this question, this book explores the contrasts between the two Chinese societies. Fifteen leading experts contribute their analyses of the differing political systems, economies, and societal characteristcs that have developed in mainland China and Taiwan over the past four decades. The essays examine the role of political centers in societal development, showing how the Communist party in the PRC and the Kuomintang party in the ROC each shaped their respective societies by exercising varying degrees of social control.

The Communist party in the PRC established a new kind of polictical center that did not allow a civil society to freely evolve and adapt to change. The Kuomintang party in the ROC established an "inhibited" political center, which exercised considerable power over economic, educational, and political decision making yet allowed civil society to form in a less prescribed way.

Civil society on Taiwan underwent great change by gradually adjusting traditional values to modern conditions. On the mainland, the Communist party sought to transform civil society into new organizational forms in which the individual was subjected to collective forms with their own system of values and ethical norms.

The essays in this book employ a multidisciplinary apporach to systematically compare the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China on Taiwan. The range of analyses, viewpoints, and issues of debate exhibited in the book provides a good overview of the scholarly comparative study of these two societies.

Copyright 1991.