From Chinese National Identity to Taiwanese Consciousness: an Examination of the Cultural Elements in Taiwan's Democratization During the Lee Teng-hui Era and its Legacy, 1988-2004.

  • Jessie Ching-Ni Liu

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

This thesis is an investigation of the emergence of democracy and its localized culture in Taiwan during the Lee Teng-hui era and its legacy, from 1988 to 2004. From a Leninist authoritarian system, Taiwan experienced a peaceful transition to representative democracy. The establishment of the first opposition party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), in 1986, and President Chiang Ching-kuo’s tolerance towards it, had signaled the commencement of Taiwan’s democratization.Various political opposition movements existed prior to 1986, especially between 1983 and 1986, indicating a gradual strengthening in the public’s political consciousness.The pivotal event to mark the democratization-localization movement in Taiwan was the emergence of a local Taiwanese, Lee Teng-hui, as President of the Republic of China and Chairman of the ruling party, the Chungkuo Kuomintang (KMT). This occurred when he succeeded Chiang Ching-kuo upon his death in 1988. Local politics henceforth emerged as a major force and KMT factional struggles had begun in earnest.During the democratic transformation that took place in Taiwan in the last quarter of the 20th century, the ruling power of the Waishengren (外省人) political elite (that is, the Chinese who took over Taiwan in 1945) gradually transferred to local political leaders,and the suppressed issue of building an independent Taiwanese nation became politicized. Furthermore, the KMT itself was undergoing a far-reaching transformation, democratization from the beginning.Democratization was assisted by institution-building through regular elections, an associated critical voice from opposition groups, a solid middle class, and the Taiwanization phenomenon itself. While the experience of colonial rule and an oppressive (rather than reformist) KMT may be said to be in the past, and hence less an impetus for action in the present, yet with the addition of a persistent military threat from People’s Republic of China seeking Taiwan’s “reunification” with the“motherland”, past, present and an anticipated future, combine contextually in the questf or Taiwan’s integrity – and hence the acquisition of an identity that is consciously Taiwanese rather than Chinese by default. moving from liberalization, to democratization, to localization or Taiwanization. As a result, the issues of national recognition and the power redistribution of different national groups (from Chinese “Mainlanders” to local Taiwanese) had combined with democratization from the beginning. Democratization was assisted by institution-building through regular elections, an associated critical voice from opposition groups, a solid middle class, and the Taiwanization phenomenon itself. While the experience of colonial rule and an oppressive (rather than reformist) KMT may be said to be in the past, and hence less an impetus for action in the present, yet with the addition of a persistent military threat from People’s Republic of China seeking Taiwan’s “reunification” with the “motherland”, past, present and an anticipated future, combine contextually in the quest for Taiwan’s integrity – and hence the acquisition of an identity that is consciously Taiwanese rather than Chinese by default.
Date of Award4 Jun 2005
LanguageEnglish
Awarding Institution
SupervisorRosita Dellios (Supervisor)

Cite this

From Chinese National Identity to Taiwanese Consciousness: an Examination of the Cultural Elements in Taiwan's Democratization During the Lee Teng-hui Era and its Legacy, 1988-2004.
Ching-Ni Liu, J. (Author). 4 Jun 2005

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis