Taiwan ROC: A forthright political and economic actor
Taiwan ROC: A forthright political and economic actor
Concomitant to all of the above-mentioned, successive Taiwanese governments steered the country toward an ongoing prosperity and this includes
Taiwan’s economy took off in the mid-1960s and grew rapidly in the following decades, causing Taiwan to become known as an “economic miracle.” Chiang and his team of economic planners, including Lee Kuo-ting (Li Guoding), got the credit, as they engineered growth from which everyone benefited.
Economic growth therefore created a burgeoning middle-class—which is an aspect that will be dealt with in more detail in this thesis—in Taiwan, and this as well as the trajectory alluded to, moved Taiwan ever-closer to being a democracy in the true sense of the term. These societal and economic elements are further emphasised thus
During the 1960s and 1970s, real GDP[] grew about 10% [percent] (7% per capita) each year. Most of this growth can be explained by increases in factors of production. Savings rates began rising after the currency was stabilised and reached almost 30% by 1970. Meanwhile, primary education, in which 70% of Taiwanese children had participated under the Japanese, became universal, and students in higher education increased many-fold. Although recent research has emphasised the importance of factor growth in the Asian “miracle economies,” studies show that productivity also grew substantially in Taiwan.
What the above emphasises is Taiwan, approximately three decades after its inception as a Western-centric nation and through the colonisation of the KMT it is able to be argued successfully implemented a domestic Industrial Revolution, with the continuum of developing into a Technology Revolution (1980s – ongoing). Both have contributed to allowing for ongoing economic growth to take place. It is relevant to observe that nation-states historically, have achieved success and status as per the Westphalian model alluded to when embarking upon successful industrial revolutions—the British during the Eighteenth Century, Western Europe during the nineteenth century, Japan after the Meiji Restoration through to 1945, and again 1970s – circa-1990s, and the US post-WWII is to name only several examples. When viewed through the prism of progress, what an industrial revolution effectively announces is a country is able to establish a more robust political and military presence in the world; and maintain a more forthright presence in terms of becoming a cosmopolitan, economic, military, and political actor. This would happen to Taiwan. In part it would be due to the conditions the above-mentioned had instilled in the population; and the focus of successive governments placed on establishing Taiwan as a more vigorous regional and international actor—separate and differentiated in status to mainland China.
Successive Taiwanese governments having sought to establish recognition through economic and aid-based programmes. In more precise terms, Taiwanese governments focused on the financial rewards their industrial- and hi-tech-revolutions had brought about, and using these platforms sought influence through these mechanisms. To be sure, this would prove successful with many regions—especially Micronesia, Oceania, the Central America and the South Americas—in gaining Taiwan’s acceptance and recognition as an independent country cum ‘nation-state,’ and moreover it would continue to raise its profile in the international arena per se.
The measure of progress for countries in general terms falls within the following tenets: stable government, prosperity through economic and social-well-being which encompasses lifespan and personal safety, environment, good governance, an ordered society and the rule-of-law. There are many other issues that comprise well-being however, and whilst the aforementioned are definitive though subjective signallers of a country’s overall success it is and remains a moot point of what order and whether other factors are of equal or of more importance. The intersection of these factors are at times, random rather than the implied linearity and moreover, beyond this acknowledgement do not require further debate here. The factors are however, exemplars and drivers of personal and societal attainment which help create further progress; and the concomitant germane loyalties it brings to a government is and remains implicit. The pivotal issue is centred upon what ‘developed’ represents and Taiwan has at its core the advent of an ‘industrial revolution,’ which is defined as the ‘rapid industrial growth … [and the] concentration of industry in large establishments’ and according to Western cum Eurocentric tenets an improvement in the wealth, lifestyle and well-being for the populace in general, is thus generated. Broadly speaking, this leads to the building and maintaining of infrastructure; a more robust domestic and international mercantilism; a higher educated population; a capable military; societal improvements; a more cosmopolitan society; stronger cultural ties; and crucially an enhanced ‘nationalism.’
Within the above-mentioned paradigm and as has been stipulated, Taiwan began its economic ascent as it embraced industrialisation in the 1970s, followed by a technology (high-tech) revolution in the mid – late 1980s which has continued through to contemporary times. Both revolutions have allowed Taiwan to maintain its high economic status in the international community and gain the subsequent fiscal and societal benefits—a strong gross domestic product (GDP); and a highly-educated population is to name only two elements of its progress. As Taiwan prospered, the requirement was to become cosmopolitan and extend influence—as is the wont of all countries seeking recognition—and it has accomplished this through numerous ties: political, educational, cultural, economic and military is to name only some. In order to contextualise the aforementioned ties it is however, necessary to briefly (and broadly) define the ‘type’ of power that is able to be accessed when a country has a strong and ongoing robust GDP; and the related value-added elements such as a strong fiscal- and monetary-base. Taiwan having gained the status of a robust and wealthy nation-state and having been able to establish close geo-political ties with other nation-states and which has been formulated and focused on one steadfast domestic issue: independence.
From the perspective of Taiwan, embarking upon the pathway of an insistence of independence strengthened a possibility that had been set in place since colonisation by the KMT circa-1945 – 1949. The outcome of this state-of-affairs is Taiwan since circa-1950 onward, has sought to extend its notable independent-status through to attempting to become a legal sovereign-state. Achieving this would dispense with any and all notions of its suzerainty to and of, mainland China. To date, this has not succeeded due to the implementation of UN Resolution 2758 in 1971. For the sake of clarity, this thesis rests on this understanding that its outcome will remain in place beyond 2018. Relevant to the aforementioned debate and pertinent to the argument, the necessity for a country to achieve legal nation-state status cannot be underestimated in terms of ongoing politico-development and the actions therein. The inherent advantages that a country immediately gains through UN recognition is inestimable and allows for immediate entry into the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and other legal and recognised forums of the UN per se. The debate around Taiwan’s status and its abilities acknowledged, it is nonetheless, important to address a criterion that affects, and will continue to affect Taiwan in the twenty-first century. The speed of change and the impact of change, which has differed from any previous centuries is what will become an omnipresent part of the political landscape for Taiwan, as it will for others. The aforementioned firmly in place it is also pertinent to introduce China and its politico, regional, geo-political and geo-strategic trajectory and the reconfiguration of its approach to Taiwan. Currently, it may best be described as ranging from rhetoric-driven to assertive preponderance. What is of most importance is the problems which this new approach throws up for Taiwan. First however, the trajectory of China must be mentioned.
Continued tomorrow … The dawn of pax-Sino: From cataclysms to cosmopolitanism
Previous instalment … China and Taiwan: an insolvable friction
 See: Taiwan. Self-governing island, Asia.’ Encyclopædia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/place/Taiwan/Cultural-life
 GDP is discussed more fully on page 14.
 Kelly Olds. ‘The Economic History of Taiwan.’ Economic History Association. EH.net. https://eh.net/encyclopedia/the-economic-history-of-taiwan/
 The term ‘Industrial Revolution’ from an historical perspective refers to the ‘totality of the changes in economic and social organisation that began about 1760 in England and later in other countries, characterised chiefly by the replacement of hand tools with power-driven machines, as the power loom and the steam engine, and the concentration of industry in large establishments.’ See: Dictionary.com. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/industrial-revolution?s=t Taiwan’s success would also be due to it during the 1950s-1960s having, ‘Rapid industrial development stimulated by export-oriented policy and US economic aid.’ See: ‘Taiwan profile – Timeline.’ BBC News. 9 Jan, 2018. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-16178545
 For evidence of the continuum referred to in this study see: Lauly Li. ‘Hon Hai to invest NT$10 billion in AI.’ Taipei Times. 3 Feb, 2018, 1.
 See: ‘Industrial Revolution.’ Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/industrial-revolution?s=t
 There are common features in what Calhoun describes as the ‘rhetoric of nations’ and within this construct nationalism is formed. Whilst nationalism is a multifaceted and complex issue some aspects of its makeup include: ‘… sovereignty, legitimacy, participation in collective affairs, direct membership, culture, temporal depth, common characteristics and special histories.’ See: Craig Calhoun. Nationalism. Buckingham: Open University Press, 1997, 4 -5. Expanding on this further is necessary at this point as it is a contentious issue at the time of writing for Taiwan as China seeks to ingratiate Taiwanese citizens living in China, and Taiwan seeks to confirm its uniqueness. To wit, ‘Nationalism can be defined as an ideology that demanding that an ethnic group or groups should establish and support their own state. Nationalism transforms an ethnic group or groups into a nation … Similarly a nation can be composed of different ethnic groups, given that these ethnic groups deem it necessary to establish, support or view a state as their own.’ And, ‘identity can be defined as ‘an actor’s experience of a category, tie, role, network, group or organisation, coupled with a public representation of that experience; the public experience often takes the form of a shared story or narrative.’ Charles Tilly. ‘Citizenship, Identity and Social History.’ Citizenship, Identity and Social History. Edited by Charles Tilly. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996, 1 – 17.
 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the broadest quantitative measure of a nation’s total economic activity. More specifically, GDP represents the monetary value of all goods and services produced within a nation’s geographic borders over a specified period of time … The equation used to calculate GDP is as follows: GDP = Consumption + Government Expenditures + Investment + Exports – Imports. See: ‘Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Investing Answers Financial Dictionary. https://investinganswers.com/financial-dictionary/economics/gross-domestic-product-gdp-1223
 Whilst the actual number of debates Taiwan and its extended presence in the political sphere and with regard to the UN and China are far too many to be debated in this thesis. The international standing of Taiwan and its status is able to be summed up as, James Huang impugned the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon for his rejection of ‘president’ Chen Shui-bian’s application for Taiwan to be admitted to the United Nations … In 1971 the UN decided ‘to restore all rights to the People’s Republic of China and to recognise the representatives of its government as the only legitimate representatives of its government as the only legitimate representatives of China, the United Nations, and to expel forthwith the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek [Chen Shui-bian’s predecessor] from the place which they unlawfully occupy at the United Nations and in all the organisations related to it.“ This [UN] resolution, 2758 resolved the issue of China’s legal representation in the UN once and for all.” See: Pan Hejun. ‘Taiwan is not, nor has it ever been, an independent country.’ The Guardian, 7 Sep, 2007. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2007/sep/07/comment.china
 ‘Taiwan is not, nor has it ever been, an independent country.’ The Guardian, 7 Sep, 2007.
Strobe Driver completed his PhD in war studies in 2011 and since then has written extensively on war, terrorism, Asia-Pacific security, the ‘rise of China,’ and issues within Australian domestic politics. Strobe is a recipient of Taiwan Fellowship 2018, MOFA, Taiwan, ROC, and is an adjunct researcher at Federation University.
Like what we do at The AIMN?
You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.
Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!
3,178 total views, 2 views today