Papers on Taiwan

Thursday
4:00 pm – 5:45 pm
Room 3

  • Ruiping Ye, “The Mudan Incident: An Incident of Significance”
  • Wei-Che Fu, “Aged Houses and Skyrocketing Prices: The Effect of Cross-Strait Trade on the Development of Taiwan’s Real Estate Market”
  • Tao Wang, “Guanxi Matters: How Confucian Culture Shapes Representation in Taiwan”
  • Tabea Mühlbach, “’The Return of the ‘Savage’—A Look at Indigenous Policy and the ‘Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee’ in Tsai Ing-wen’s Taiwan”
  • Vladimir Stolojan-filipesco, “Coming to Terms with the Postwar Single-Party Regime, or Misuse of Transitional Justice? An Assessment of Two Transitional Justice Initiatives Enacted by the Tsai Administration”

Ruiping Ye, “The Mudan Incident: An Incident of Significance”

In 1874, Japan sent an expedition to southern Taiwan. At that time Taiwan was governed by Manchu Qing China and the southern territory was occupied and controlled by Taiwan’s indigenous peoples. Qing China and Japan entered a lengthy negotiation over the expedition and the withdrawal of Japanese force from southern Taiwan. The expedition and the subsequent negotiations are both known as the Mudan Incident.
While Japan’s expedition has been well researched, the negotiations between the Qing and Japan are less studied by scholars. This paper examines official communications and records of the negotiation and reveals the different attitudes by the Qing and Japan towards expansion and colonisation, supported by different legal traditions and theories.
The Mudan Incident was not only a catalyst for the Qing’s abrupt change of policy in Taiwan and a precursor of Japan’s colonisation of Taiwan. This paper argues that the Mudan Incident was a reflection of the Qing’s governance philosophy in its 200 years’ administration of Taiwan, and provided a footnote to Japan’s style of colonisation in Taiwan. The Incident manifested as a clash between the legal philosophies of a traditional Chinese imperial regime and a modern and European-style state in the early modern world. The Mudan Incident was one of the most significant events in the history of Taiwan.

Wei-Che Fu, “Aged Houses and Skyrocketing Prices: The Effect of Cross-Strait Trade on the Development of Taiwan’s Real Estate Market”

This study examines Taiwan’s increasing high housing prices since the 1990s. The housing price-to-income ratio of Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, accounted for the highest among East Asian’ democratic countries (Numbeo Database 2019). While the population in Taiwan has been grown slowly, the housing prices around main cities has grown steadily. The study uses mixed methodologies to identify the factors to explain growing housing prices and finds that, even the net foreign direct investment inflows (inflows-outflows) has become negative since the 1990s, and the real estate investment from China has been severely controlled, the degree of Taiwan’s trade dependency on China still influenced the development of real estate market in Taiwan.
The study pointed out three reasons. First, the close manufactures division between Taiwan and China which was formed since mid-1990 affected not only Taiwan’s export performance but also domestic economics. Second, Taiwanese businessperson 台商, who can move cross-strait easily, became the main customers to invest in luxury real estate market in Taiwan. Third, governments of Taiwan, in order to response the economic recessions during 2000-2015, cut the property taxes and implement the huge urban and land development policies, building a real-estate-market-friendly environment. With three findings, the study concluded that the transformation of the economic structure of Taiwan, which was highly dependent on China’s economy since the mid-1990s explained the development of the real-estate market and skyrocketing housing prices in Taiwan.

Tao Wang, “Guanxi Matters: How Confucian Culture Shapes Representation in Taiwan”

Back in the 1990s when the Asian values debate broke out, politicians and scholars disagreed about whether the Confucian culture in East Asia is compatible with democracy. Huntington (1996), among others, famously asserted that “Confucian heritage, with its emphasis on authority, order, hierarchy, and supremacy of the collectivity over the individual, creates obstacles to democratisation.” The debate continues in the field of philosophy, but an important empirical question remains unanswered: how do Confucian legacies today influence the way people behave in a democracy? In this paper, I explore the way Confucian culture shapes representation in Taiwan’s democracy, with a focus on the role of guanxi. I conducted a survey experiment in Taiwan, simulating the 2020 parliamentary election. The experiment manipulates the candidates’ profiles across conditions varying from a consistency-focused record to a national policy-focused one. It finds that stronger guanxi orientation motivates voters to favour legislators who serve local interests, such as bring projects to his or her constituency and handle casework on behalf of individual voters. The study also demonstrates that when guanxi orientation is weaker, voters prefer broader, national policy to local, particularistic interests. The paper aims at offering empirical insights to the decades-long debate on Confucianism and democracy.

Tabea Mühlbach, “’The Return of the ‘Savage’’—A Look at Indigenous Policy and the ‘Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee’ in Tsai Ing-wen’s Taiwan”

The implementation of “transitional justice” has been a central concern of the Tsai government. Most conventional definitions of transitional justice—coming to terms with a country’s authoritarian past—appeal to a rather restricted scope for action and, in the case of Taiwan, have usually been applied to deal with the decades of Kuomintang rule. While most countries have been hesitant to address indigenous affairs from the perspective of transitional justice, Tsai Ing-wen established the “Presidential Office Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee” in 2016, targeting injustices stemming from the past 400 years of exploitation and political suppression of Taiwan’s indigenous populace.
Four years after the “Committee’s” establishment, this paper will offer a review of its work as presented in recent policy and public discourse. By application of critical transitional justice theory, it will address two questions: 1) How is Taiwan’s indigenous transitional justice reconciled with its other (more orthodox) approaches to transitional justice? 2) (How) has the work of the “Committee” advanced the state of Taiwanese indigenous affairs and what can this tell us about the future of indigenous policy in Taiwan?
This paper will argue that labelling indigenous issues as “transitional justice” has contributed to framing them in a cohesive way and as a matter requiring prompt and comprehensive action. However, the “Committee’s” work has produced dissent and has fallen short of expectations. While new developments have been initiated, the setbacks encountered may also prove to be a temporary obstruction for the indigenous policy after the ending presidential term.

Vladimir Stolojan-filipesco, “Coming to Terms with the Postwar Single-Party Regime, or Misuse of Transitional Justice? An Assessment of Two Transitional Justice Initiatives Enacted by the Tsai Administration”

The 2016 general election in Taiwan was a triumph for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) led pan-green coalition which, for the first time in history, gained the control of the Presidency and the Legislative Yuan. The DPP had, therefore, the opportunity to enact laws without reaching an agreement with the Kuomintang led pan-blue coalition and therefore to quickly push forward its own agenda. The Act Governing the Handling of Ill-Gotten Properties by Political Parties and Their Affiliate Organisations and the Act for the Promotion of Transitional Justice, enacted in 2016 and in 2017, fulfil requests addressed by members of the pan-green coalition since the early 2000s. The former allows inquiries on the origin as well as the legitimacy of the wealth of organisations formerly affiliated to the party-state regime (if belonging is deemed ill-gotten, it should be nationalised), whereas the latter deals with several issues (such as the handling of the remaining public artefacts of the personality cult) which were not included in the 1990s transitional justice laws. Two commissions are in charge of their implementation. Up until 2016, the Kuomintang systemically refused to debate these issues at the Legislative Yuan. The pan-blue opposition remains constant as today, for the Kuomintang and its allies, these laws are merely excuses for a political witch-hunt. For the DPP administration, however, they contribute to Taiwan’s democratic consolidation.
Drawing on fieldwork conducted between March 2018 and August 2019, this contribution will recall the elaboration of the above-mentioned laws, the work of each commission in charge of their implementation and the critics they face.

Event Timeslots (1)

Room 3
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