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Volume #1, Number #1

Published in July, 1996

The competition between Chinese identity and Taiwanese identity is the most important and troublesome political problem in today's Taiwan. To understand this significant macro-political phenomenon, I start with a systematic investigation into the relationship between ethnic identity and political cognition of Taiwanese voters. Five central questions are raised. First, what exactly is the current state of divided national identity in Taiwan? Second, who tends to self-perceive as Taiwanese or Chinese, or both? Third, how do Taiwanese an Chinese identifiers perceive and evaluate the two major political parties, KMT and DPP? Fourth, what are the issues positions and ideological inclination of Taiwanese and Chinese identifiers? Fifth, and finally, how robust is the ethnic identity as an explanatory variable in explaining some other attitudinal or behavioral variables?

Survey-based findings are rich and suggest some interesting answers for the above questions. All in all, they confirmed a classic theoretical perspective that people's ties to various groups help to struture their political thinking.

Ying-lung You

As the authoritarian regime in Taiwan was transformed into a more democratic system, conflict over national identities has emerged as the most important social cleavage in party competition. Students of nationalism have pointed out that ethnicity lies at the core of modern nationalist movements and nationalist ideology. Nationalism is largely based on collective identity. It commands, in many cases, strong commitment from the members to the welfare of the group. The ideology of nationalism is often assumed as a doctrine of nationalism and liberalism not only are compatible but many also imply each other. But so far the argument is limited to the theoretical speculation.

This study, using a national survey data collected in 1992, shows that Taiwanese national identity is empirically correlated with both Taiwanese ethnic identity and liberal secessionism. Each factor independently wields significant influence on the formation of Taiwanese national identity. We found among Taiwanese nationalists a tolerance for secession within its own group. The findings suggest that both ethnic identity and democratic liberalism contribute to the formation of Taiwanese nationalism.

Naiteh Wu

Previous explanations of the rapid development of the political opposition in Taiwan after 1986, when the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) announce its establishment, tend to focus on the process of "political elite interactions" between the Kuomintang (KMT) and its challengers. The role of the change of popular support for the opposition were largely ignored. This paper addresses to the issue of why and how the DPP gains more popular support to launch a successful challenge after 1986 by comparing the ideology and the strategy of consensus mobilization utilized during the two waves of challenges in 1979 and 1986- 9 respectively. The determinants of the consensus mobilization this paper points out include: the degree of resonance between the opposition ideology and the life experiences and/or social memory of its potential supporters; timely occurrences of incidents that coinciding with the opposition ideology; the existence of opposition organizations; and the strategy of transmitting opposition ideology to its potential supporters. The 1979 opposition insurgency, whose primary goals were democratization of Taiwan, lead to a major setback when it met with severe repression in the "Kaohsiung Incident" at the year end. The radicalization of opposition ideology in the 1980s, which is marked by a set of new claims based on "Taiwanese Nationalism" instead of mere "democratization" in the previous era, along with the existence of an opposition organizational network, and the adaption of the mass movement strategy, are considered to be the major factors that distinguished its success from the 1979 insurgency. Ironically, the radicalization of the opposition challenge in terms ig ideology and strategy, though consciously resisted by the opposition leader before the 1980s, were fueled by the KMT's constant repression against the opposition, and further fertilized by the disadvantageous political power structure against native Taiwanese based on a set of "Chinese Nationalist Ideology," which gradually lost its power of appeal and legistimacy in the 1980s.

Fu-chang Wang

This paper first attempts to explore the increasing descensus of national identity of Taiwanese voters based on electoral survey data. Second, factors that determine individual s orientation in diversified national identity are analyzed and the relationship between descensus of national identity and partisanship as well as partisan vote-choices are also causally modeled. As the survey data collected between 1991 and 1993 show, there was an increasing trend of the descensus of national identity. And, individual's Taiwanese-Mainlander ethnicity are the most important factors in determining individual's DPP-KMT partisanship. Finally, individual's national identity and partisanship are significant predictors for partisan vote-chices, and this causal model is held against different time as well as different elections. This paper concludes that the increasing descensus of Taiwanese national identity has been and will be closely linked to the growing of partisanship and to partisan vote-choices, that is, Taiwan's recent elections have been related structurally to nation building rather that functionally to select elective offices. 

Huo-yan Shyu

Economic exchange between Taiwan and China has been growing rapidly since the mid 1980s. Hong Kong/China has become the largest export market for Taiwan as of October 1995. Meanwhile, China is also the largest recipient of the political interaction that has further complicated the long existing rivalry across the Straits. Moreover, as Beijing openly threatened that it would make use of economic connections for political goals, this bluffing gesture has made people feel dangerous of economic interdependence with China.

This article takes issue with the "jeopardy thesis" of economic connections. It starts from the given fact of the political animosity between CCP and KMT, analyzes that trends of economic exchange between the two sides, and concludes the economic relation across the Straits so far is still positive and favorable to Taiwan. Following the analysis, China is unlikely to launch an aggressive war against Taiwan in the near term. Similarly, Beijing will find it difficult to successfully engage in an economic warfare with Taiwan.

However, given the deepening trend of economic interdependence, there indeed exist some unfavorable factors on the side of Taiwan if China;s state capacity keeps growing, if its geographic politico-military status becomes more significant, and if Beijing's claim on Taiwan's sovereignty remains unshaken. Being in a structurally weak mechanisms vis-a-vis China. In the long term, the higher degree Chinese national economy is integrated into the capitalist world system, the more Beijing's action in the international community will be constrained. In addition, the mire deeply Chinese political system is decentralized and democratized, the more likely Beijing will soften its tough policy against Taiwan. Therefore, it is s desirable strategy for Taiwan to pursue a policy of "peaceful evolution" toward China that will probably help create an environment for rapprochement and a framework for peaceful coexistence across the Straits.

Jieh-min Wu

This essay reviews the idea of community in Western political thought. The classical paradigm is civic republicanism which emphasizes common good. self-rule, and civic virtue as the major characteristics of political life. After the dissolution of the classic theory, there are three paradigms of community in modern political thought—state, civil society, and nation. The modern state is based on the ideal of neutrality with regard to social conflicts. Since its theoretical emphases are on sovereignty and the law, it becomes the dominatnt ruling apparatus of modern political community. The tradition of civil society attempts to find the mechanism for a self-regulating society. Market (which articulates interests) and public sphere (which converges public opinions) become two powerful liberal ideals that can counter the state apparatus. The idea of nation has deep affinity with the rise of romanticism, which emphasizes shared characteristics, affection, and organic solidarity as the foundation of community to overcome alienation. I contend that many themes in the contemporary debates between liberalism, communitarianism, and multiculturalism originate from different vision about community. When looking for an adequate theory of political community, we have to be cautious about the inner logic of different paradigms to achieve satisfactory theoretical reconstruction.

Sarl K. Y. Shaw