The Politics of Polarization: Taiwan in Comparative Perspective

The Politics of Polarization: Taiwan in Comparative Perspective

Friday, October 17, 2014 | 8:15 AM - Saturday, October 18, 2014 | 3:30 PM (Pacific)

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Over the past year and more, Taiwan’s political elite has been deadlocked over the question of deepening economic relations with the People’s Republic of China. This controversial issue has led to a standoff between the executive and legislative branches, sparked a frenzy of social activism and a student occupation of the legislature, and contributed to President Ma Ying-jeou’s deep unpopularity.

On October 17-18, the Taiwan Democracy Project at CDDRL, with the generous support of the Taipei Economic and Culture Office, will host its annual conference at Stanford University to examine the politics of polarization in Taiwan.

This conference will bring together specialists from Taiwan, the U.S., and elsewhere in Asia to examine the sources and implications of this political polarization in comparative perspective. It will include a special case study of the Trade in Services Agreement with China that triggered this past year’s protests, as well as a more general overview of the politics of trade liberalization in Taiwan, prospects for Taiwan’s integration into the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other regional trade agreements, and a consideration of the implications for Taiwan’s long-term democratic future.

Conference speakers will include: Chung-shu Wu, the president of the Chung-hwa Institute of Economic Research (CIER) in Taipei; Steve Chan of the University of Colorado; Roselyn Hsueh of Temple University; Yun-han Chu, the president of the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation; and Thitinan Pongsudhirak of Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.

Panels will examine the following questions:

1. What are the sources and implications of political polarization in Taiwan, and how have these changed in recent years?

2. How does Taiwan’s recent experience compare to political polarization in other countries in Asia (e.g. South Korea, Thailand) and elsewhere (the US)?

3. To what extent does the latest political deadlock in Taiwan reflect concern over the specific issue of trade with the People’s Republic of China, versus a deeper, systemic set of problems with Taiwan’s democracy?

4. How are globalization and trade liberalization reshaping Taiwan’s domestic political economy, and what are the prospects for forging a stronger pro-trade coalition in Taiwan that transcends the current partisan divide?

The conference will take place October 17-18 in the Bechtel Conference Room in Encina Hall at Stanford University. It is free and open to the public. 


Conference Resources



Speaker Bios


Conference Report

Conference Flyer


Conference Papers


How Cross-Strait Trade and Investment Is Affecting Income and Wealth Inequality in Taiwan by Chien-Fu Lin, National Taiwan University


Generational Differences in Attitudes towards Cross-Straits Trade by Ping-Yin Kuan, Department of Sociology & International Program in Asia-Pacific Studies, National Chengchi University


Change and the Unchanged of Polarized Politics in Taiwan by Min-Hua Huang, National Taiwan University; Center for East Asia Policy Studies, The Brookings Institution


Social Media, Social Movements and the Challenge of Democratic Governability by Boyu Chen, National Sun Yat-sen University, Institute of Political Science 


Coping with the Challenge of Democratic Governance under Ma Ying-jeou by Yun-han Chu, National Taiwan University


Taiwan’s Bid for TPP Membership and the Potential Impact on Taiwan-U.S. Relations by Kwei-Bo Huang, National Chengchi University, Department of Diplomacy


In the Wake of the Sunflower Movement: Exploring the Political Consequences of Cross-Strait Integration by Pei-shan Lee, National Chung Cheng University, Political Science Department 


The Roots of Thailand’s Political Polarization in Comparative Perspective by Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Chulalongkorn University; The Institute of Security and International Studies


The Role of the United States in Cross-Strait Economic Integration by Chen-Dong Tso, National Taiwan University


The China Factor and the Generational Shift over National Identity by Mark Weatherall, Taiwan Foundation for Democracy


Taiwan’s Strategy for Regional Economic Integration by Chung-Shu Wu, Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research


Polarized Electorates in South Korea and Taiwan: The Role of Political Trust under Conservative Governments by Hyunji Lee, Institute of Asian Research, University of British Columbia


Polarization in Taiwan Politics by Steve Chan, University of Colorado, Boulder


Conference Biographies
Taiwan Polarization Conference Flyer
Politics of Polarization in Taiwan: Conference Report