China Beat Archive


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2012 Feb 21 in The China Beat


Copyright 2012 Sebastian Veg


During a recent trip to Taipei to observe the January presidential and legislative elections, like many people with little first-hand knowledge of Taiwan, I was struck by the unique traits of Taiwan’s democracy. The elections also seemed relevant to many debates in China, not only because they were closely followed and tweeted by critical voices on the mainland, but also because of their significance against the broader historical and geographical context of the history of modern China, a connection which holds true even if one subscribes to the view that Taiwan had no previous connection with this history before 1945 and was drawn into against its will. While Taiwanese democracy is usually discussed as a model of post-authoritarian transition (which of course it is, as demonstrated by the peaceful and consensual electoral process this year), possibly for China to emulate, I believe Taiwan’s experience also fits into a wider timeframe reaching back to Republican history.