Recently I have read the following book, its main points are:
Book title: Denny Roy. 2003. Taiwan: a political history. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.
- this book seeks to tell Taiwan’s story in a way that would illumine the origin of Taiwan’s present domestic and international political situation (p.2).
- chapter 1 talks about Taiwan’s early history. The people who became known as the Taiwanese came to Taiwan to get away from conditions in China. This was the beginning of Taiwan’s divergence from the mainland in social, economic, and political development. From here foreign influence would play an important role as well – first the Dutch and then the japans (p.31). While growing within China’s shadow, Taiwan remained distinct from China.
- chapter 2 talks about the Japanese occupation.
- chapter 3 talks about the return of Taiwan to mainland rule in 1945. Mainlanders had regarded the Taiwanese as semi feudal Chinese. Five decades of Japanese influence created suspicion about the depth of Chinese patriotism on Taiwan (p.56).
- Taiwanese had a different interpretation of the significance of the Japanese colonial period. While they resented the discrimination and restrictions on their political power, many Taiwanese also believed Japanese rule had helped Taiwan’s advance economically, politically, and socially. Taiwanese had their own sense of superiority. As some Taiwanese had reminded the mainlanders, it was the Chinese government that had given Taiwan to Japan in the first place (p.57).
- chapter 4 talks about the martial law and Kuomintang domination. The KMT’s fixation on recovering China had contradictory consequence for Taiwan. On the one hand, the ROC government required Taiwan people’s dedication and sacrifice; on the other hand, the KMT believed that successfully implementation the ‘Three principles of the people’ in Taiwan could serve as a model of KMT rule and weaken support for the CCP on the mainland. Thus doing well in Taiwan would help KMT win back China (p.79).
- Despite the harsh treatment of some political offenders, the combination of modest political reforms began to gain the KMT some legitimacy in the eyes of many Taiwanese (p.104).
- chapters 5 talks about Taiwan in the Cold War. The outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950 convinced key US policymakers that the contest with the Sino-Soviet bloc had entered a new, more intense phase. In Truman’s word ‘the attack upon Korea makes it plain beyond all doubts that Communism has passed beyond the use of subversion to conquer independent nation’ (p.112).
- Truman saw the Korean War as a temporary setback to US-China relations and expected to return to their prewar policy of accommodating China (p.124).
- Tokyo remained torn between the need to get along with the PRC, and the affinity of many Japanese for Taiwan based on ties of history and ideology (p.129).
- during the PRC’s Cultural Revolution (1967-77), Taipei answered with a movement called the Cultural Renaissance, which reaffirmed Sun Yat-sen’s ‘Three principles of the people’ as the basis of Chinese society (p.144).
- the events of the Cold War and the Chinese civil war melded together partially but not completely. There was considerable tension between KMT and the US in the context of American Cold War strategy (p.150).
- it was hard to dispute that American discouragement of KMT’s planned ‘return to the mainland’ was in Taiwan’s best interest at least in the short term. The US continued to provide weaponry to Taiwan (p.151).
- Chapter 6 talks about the struggle of the Taiwanese for political reform and freedom. The ruling KMT conservatives worried that liberalization would make Taiwan more vulnerable to separatism or communist subversion (p.154).
- the opposition party DPP members made their public speeches in the Taiwanese dialect rather than in mandarin. DPP adopted a program with the basic goal that included self-determination of Taiwan’s political status trough plebiscite and rejoining the UN (p.173).
- chapter 7 talks about Taiwan under Lee Teng-hui. KMT’s evolution through the 1980s saw the beginning of a deep division; the most important fault lines involved the perennial struggle between Taiwanese and mainlanders (p.184).
- strategically, international connections and recognition could enhance Taiwan’s security. By strengthening its membership in the international community through economic, culture etc., Taiwan became more eligible to the protection offered by international norm (p.212).
- by and large Taiwanese preferred to wait rather than commit to either unification with China or independence. President Lee said ‘Most Taiwan resident have a fluid and ambivalent national identity’ (p.213).
- disagreement over the one-China principle was an obstacle to cross-strait talks between CCP and KMT. In 1992, negotiators for Taiwan and China agreed to shelve this tough political issue. Subsequently, a controversy developed over whether the two sides had reached a ‘consensus’ that they could hold differing interpretations of the one-China principle (p.219).
- chapter 8 talks about how the DPP captured the presidency. The trends of Taiwanese empowerment and weakening of the KMT culminated in the election of DPP candidate Chen Shui-bian as the president in March 2000 (p.227). The DPP’s successes when Taiwan entered a new century underscored the two main themes of Taiwan’s recent political history: democratization and the persistence of tensions with China (p.239).
- Chapter 9 concludes that this survey of Taiwan’s political history sought to aid comprehension of the island’s unusual present-day political circumstance. One peculiarity was that two distinct ‘Chinese’ government claim over the ownership of Taiwan (p.241). At issue was not only the question of which Chinese government had rightful claim to Taiwan, but also the possibility that Taiwan might reject both and opted instead for political separation from China. Taiwan had not made up its own mind. The identity of Taiwan’s people as a whole remained unsettled (p.242). While recognizing their cultural and genealogical roots in China, Taiwanese were particularly reticent toward the notion of to be ruled by mainland Chinese. Chinese in Taiwan took Taiwan’s handover to Japan in 1895 as a sell out by the central government. The US and China faced the prospect of a war over Taiwan that neither side wanted. China was committed to attack Taiwan under certain circumstances while the US was committed to defend Taiwan under certain circumstances (p.243).
Book’s idea in one paragraph: this book tells Taiwan’s story in a way that would illumine the origin of Taiwan’s present domestic and international political situation (p.2). By and large Taiwanese preferred to wait rather than commit to either unification with China or independence. Most Taiwan residents have a fluid and ambivalent national identity (p.213) and the identity of Taiwan’s people as a whole remained unsettled (p.242). While recognizing their cultural and genealogical roots in China, Taiwanese were particularly reticent toward the notion of being ruled by mainland Chinese.