And Now.... TAIWAN
"Taiwan has undergone perhaps more dramatic change than any other country
on the face of this planet," observed U.S. Representative Tom Lantos (CA)
in March 1999. "It has become a full-fledged political democracy with
free elections, free press, freedom of religion, and a multiparty democracy,"
he said. "It is now ... one of the [world's] most successful economies."
Congressman Lantos' remarks were in support of a proposal to reaffirm
the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), passed in 1979. In that year, the USA
normalized relations with the People's Republic of China (on the mainland),
an action that involved severing U.S. diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
But as the TRA (and subsequent history) made clear, that was not to be
the end of commercial, cultural, and other kinds of ties between the peoples
of America and Taiwan. "And Now.... Taiwan" introduces Taiwan to students
and suggests questions for ongoing research into its unique achievements.
The unit materials will help you to address several goals in social studies
curriculums for Grades 9-12. Here's one from Expectations of Excellence,
by the National Council for the Social Studies. "The student should be
- "explain the ... continuing [global] influence of key ideals of
the democratic republican form of government, such as ... liberty,
... equality, and the rule of law" from "Civic Ideals and Practices"
To simplify this complex topic for use within various social studies courses,
LE has made some terminology decisions that you may want to point out
to students. Thus, on the Student Text Page,
they will read about the Kuomintang (KMT) a Chinese term meaning
"National People's Party" but not about the "Nationalists," as
the KMT is also known. And they'll meet the term "mainland China"
but not "People's Republic of China," a title that some readers might
confuse with the "Republic of China" (ROC) on Taiwan. Social studies terms
that you may want to preview include: free market, gross domestic product,
sovereignty, and utilities (infrastructure).
FOUR BIG QUESTIONS
The questions at the top of the Student Text
Page are meant to help students focus their research efforts. Here’s
1. Why have Taiwan's and China's histories been linked so often...?
The most obvious non-political answer is that Taiwan was populated by
successive waves of immigrants from the mainland, beginning in the 7th
century CE and concluding with the arrival of KMT followers in recent
times. (See the introductory paragraphs and "Politics 101" on the Student
Text Page.) It would be helpful for students to have access to the
Taiwan Map Page while reading about such
migrations. And with access to the Taiwan Data
Page, as well, they should be able to infer the strong cultural ties
(language, for example) that both societies have in common today. Politically,
of course, Taiwan and mainland China have been involved in the dispute
outlined in the "And Now...." paragraph on the Student
2. What strategies did Taiwan follow for its economic expansion...?
From their first distribution of farm land to private owners, KMT leaders
were committed to setting the basis for free-market competition. On the
Student Text Page, the section labeled
"Economics 101" plus the introduction to the "And Now..." paragraph tell
the story of how the Taiwanese then pursued strategies of economic upgrading
and trade expansion. Today, Taiwan has achieved these goals. Indeed, students
interested in cyberspace may know that Taiwan is a major supplier of electronic
products, shipping tons of such goods to the USA a major export
partner and other global markets every year. Indeed, Taiwan's Hsinchu
Science Park (near Taipei) is among the world's largest centers for high-tech
3. How did democracy finally emerge...? The dream of democracy
for China was born on the mainland, starting with Dr. Sun Yat-sen's rebellion
against the Qing (Manchu) dynasty in 1911 and continuing through the KMT's
adoption of a constitution (in 1946), promising a "republic of the people,
... by the people, and for the people." But the full realization of that
dream occurred on Taiwan. Urge students to research this story further.
(The Internet yields terrific materials in response to a browser search
for "Taiwan" plus "democracy.") One of this story's most fascinating chapters
is the role played by consumer movements in the early 1980s, as people
on Taiwan organized to demand environmental protection, women's rights,
and the like all before martial law was lifted. Tell students that
the democratic process has continued in Taiwan, as evident in the March
2000 election of Chen Shui-bian to the presidency. That year's election
of Chen (the candidate of the Democratic Progressive Party) represented
the first transition of political party leadership in Taiwan since the
arrival of the KMT in 1949. The peaceful nature of this transition was
itself a commentary on the strength of Taiwanese democracy.
4. What kind of role is Taiwan likely to play in the 21st century?
The full answer to this question depends on a number of unfolding events:
Taiwan's recent admission, in 2001, to the World Trade Organization (WTO
or, sometimes, WTrO); its plans to become a regional hub for East
Asian trade, transportation, financial transactions, and the like; and,
of course, its hopes for a peaceful outcome to its current negotiations
with mainland China. (See the conclusion of the "And Now...." segment
on the Student Text Page.)
On-line, keep current with Taiwan's own view of unfolding events by visiting
the excellent Site maintained by its Government
Information Office. Note especially the home-page links to "Taiwan
Headlines" and "Periodicals." (And don't miss the Taipei Review
and Taipei Journal, both accessed by the latter link.) To find
reports geared to readers' interests in Houston, San Francisco, and several
other U.S. cities, select the link to "Site Map," then select "GIO Websites
For more than 20 years, the U.S. Congress has been developing a clear
record of its members' support for the Taiwanese people. Click here, to
read the Taiwan
Relations Act that launched this record in 1979. For Congressional
views today, visit THOMAS The U.S.
Congress on the Internet, and enter "Taiwan" in the "Word/Phrase"
A few other good sources:
Chandler, Clay. "Taiwan Relaxes Trade Policy." The Washington
Post. November 8, 2001. Page E4.
Meyer, Mahlon. "The Birth of a New Taipei." Newsweek.
March 12, 2001.
"Taiwan." CIA World Factbook 2002.
"Taiwan." Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2000.
U.S. Department of Commerce. "Taiwan
Country Commercial Guide FY2002."
Taiwan Student Text Page
| Taiwan Map Page | Taiwan
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pages in this study unit? Or visit LE's Home
LE wishes to thank the Information Division, Taipei Economic
and Cultural Representative Office in the United States, for underwriting
the costs of producing and distributing the original printed version of
this unit. We hope that, in this new electronic version, our unit continues
to serve teachers and students in Grades 7-12.
© Learning Enrichment, Inc.
Content last updated: October 2002. Page last reviewed: October 2002.