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The First Chinese Democracy

, 392 pages

6 b&w illus.

December 2002



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The First Chinese Democracy

Political Life in the Republic of China on Taiwan

The political transformation of Taiwan from an authoritarian regime into a democracy is one of the great political sagas of the 20th century. Defeated on the China mainland, the Kuomintang established a new polity on Taiwan that allowed for four remarkable patterns of political development. These patterns reflect a complex political process of behavioral and institutional change in which the key requisites for democracy now exist in Taiwan. Taiwan's history of citizen participation in direct elections, along with the political institutional changes narrated here by Chao and Myers, produced an unprecedented, peaceful political turn-over of power from the KMT ruling party to the DPP, or Democratic Progressive Party, in March 2000.

Linda Chao is a former research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Ramon H. Myers is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

"A work of lasting value that will long stand as the authoritative account of the politics of democracy-building in Taiwan. Although Taiwan has yet to meet the ultimate test of a democracy—the peaceful transfer of power from the dominant party to an opposition party—Chao and Myers's detailed research suggests that solid foundations have been laid which in time will make such development possible, even likely. They have not only humanized the Taiwan story, but reminded us that the building of democracy depends upon greatness in leadership."

"An important book-length analysis and review of one of the most interesting and significant phenomena in recent Chinese politics: the gradualist and largely successful path of democratization in Taiwan in the 1980s and 1990s."

"A lucidly written interpretative history of political change in Taiwan from the late 1940s to the mid-1990s... A valuable study that raises important issues for further investigation and analysis."

"This detailed account and astute analysis of political events of the Republic of China provides a balanced appraisal of China's first experiment with democracy."