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The Economic Foundations of Democratization: The Case of Taiwan and Implications for Mainland China

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dc.contributor.advisor Gould, Mark Zhu, Wei (William) 2019-08-23T20:57:19Z 2019-08-23T20:57:19Z 2019
dc.description.abstract Why did democratization occur in Taiwan in the 1980s and 1990s? What can Taiwan’s democratization experience tell us about Mainland China’s prospect of democratization? This paper introduces an original version of modernization theory to answer these questions. I show that from the late 1970s to the 1980s, Taiwan transitioned from the labor-intensive manufacturing economy to the tech-innovation economy. Under an embedded authoritarian Kuomintang (KMT) party state, the economic restructuring achieved limited growth and caused the public to develop motivational goals for democratization. The combination of weakening state control and strong public motivations for democratization generated the conditions for democratic movements. To avoid a democratic revolution, the authoritarian KMT party initiated democratic reforms in 1986. Meanwhile, Mainland China’s industrial economy lagged behind Taiwan by 30 years. Since 2006, China has been pushing for an economic upgrading from a labor-intensive to a techinnovation economy. From the comparative case study of China’s Yangtze River Delta (YRD) region and Pearl River Delta (PRD) region, I show that the predatory authoritarian YRD regional government hinders the growth of the tech-innovation industry, and thus eliminates the public motivations for democratization. In contrast, the embedded authoritarian PRD regional government promotes the growth of the tech-innovation industry but inhibits it from attaining global competitiveness, and thus generates the public motivations for democratization. Hence, this paper predicts that if the state control weakens in China, democratic movements are likely to occur in the PRD region and unlikely to occur in the YRD region.
dc.description.sponsorship Haverford College. Department of Sociology
dc.language.iso eng
dc.subject.lcsh Democratization -- China
dc.subject.lcsh Democratization -- Taiwan
dc.subject.lcsh Economic development -- China
dc.subject.lcsh Economic development -- Taiwan
dc.subject.lcsh Comparative government
dc.title The Economic Foundations of Democratization: The Case of Taiwan and Implications for Mainland China
dc.type Thesis
dc.rights.access Tri-College users only

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