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My Fight for a New Taiwan

One Woman's Journey from Prison to Power

by Lu Hsiu-lien and Ashley Esarey

Publication Year: 2014

Lu Hsiu-lien’s journey is the story of Taiwan. Through her successive drives for gender equality, human rights, political reform, Taiwan independence, and, currently, environmental protection, Lu has played a key role in Taiwan’s evolution from dictatorship to democracy. Her impoverished parents twice attempted to give her away for adoption, and as an adult, she survived cancer and imprisonment, later achieving success as an elected politician—the first self-made woman to serve with such prominence in Asia.

Published by: University of Washington Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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Jerome A. Cohen

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pp. vii-x

Anyone who has been privileged to teach at major American law schools for several decades is likely to have taught at least a few students who have subsequently become politically prominent. Of course, many students who burn with political ambition during their law school days are later seduced by other opportunities or ...

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pp. xi-xiii

Our collaboration on My Fight for a New Taiwan began in the late 1990s when Lu Hsiu-lien (aka Annette Lu) was serving as chief executive of Taoyuan County and Ashley Esarey was preparing to enter the PhD program in political science at Columbia University. In the spring of 1998, Ashley moved into an apartment next to Lu’s official ...

Map of Taiwan

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pp. xiv-2

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Ashley Esarey

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pp. 3-12

In the last seven decades, Taiwan has been passed between Japanese and Chinese colonial rulers, broken free from the grip of Guomindang (Nationalist) authoritarianism, and fought to become a democracy with free and fair elections. In world affairs, Taiwan remains an outlier. Beijing asserts that Taiwan is a province...

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1. Dreams Come True

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pp. 13-18

The wail of a thousand air horns, the crackling shower of fireworks, the undulation of a sea of banners greeted us as we left our party headquarters and approached the stage. A crowd stretched for half a mile in every direction, claiming streets and sidewalks, jamming intersections on Minsheng East Road. Bottle rockets shrieked...

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2. Taiwanese Daughter

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pp. 19-40

When they were newly married, Father and Mother once came upon an old fortune-teller who, beckoning to them, offered to predict their futures. Father was skeptical, but Mother, who was curious about what the old man might say, wanted to give him a chance....

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3. Lifting Half the Sky

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pp. 41-72

So much had happened so fast. Almost before I could reflect on the new direction my life had taken, the plane touched down in Chicago’s O’Hare airport, where a university classmate, Chen Henchieh, waited to greet me. I had arrived in America. During the car ride to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, my classmate...

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4. A Moth Flying toward Flame

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pp. 73-97

Some people say chance, serendipity, or even divine intervention determines our friends and foes in life. Taiwanese believe very strongly in a concept called yuanfen, meaning a special destined relationship. To possess both yuan (destiny) and the fen (opportunity) is auspicious. This is perhaps why I attribute encounters and relationships...

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5. Human Rights Riot

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pp. 98-128

Fear of the unknown darkened the days following the cancellation of elections. Would the government make scapegoats of Dangwai candidates? Would war break out as China, encouraged by its new relationship with the United States, became more belligerent? Would society disintegrate into panic and widespread unrest? The...

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6. Patriotism Imprisoned

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pp. 129-175

As soon as I entered the Jingmei Detention Center, located in a suburb of Taipei, I could feel my self-confidence slip away. Guards took my watch, wallet, and jewelry— small symbols of individuality that linked me with the outside world. Even my eyeglasses were taken, without which I was nearly blind. I was left wearing a...

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7. In Search of Destiny

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pp. 176-202

According to Taiwanese custom, I should have stayed in Brother’s home. He is the family’s only son and I am an unmarried woman. But after more than five years in prison, I found it difficult to feel comfortable anywhere. I was unaccustomed to the noise of traffic on the streets of downtown Taoyuan, and I worried that the large ...

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8. Knocking at the Gate of the UN

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pp. 203-233

The history of the Nationalists in the United Nations goes back to the final months of World War II, when in a benevolent gesture the Americans gave China a seat on the UN Security Council. In late 1945, Chiang Kai-shek’s troops still controlled much of China, but they were threatened by the Communist forces after the Chinese...

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9. Political Trash

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pp. 234-258

Mid-morning on November 29, 1996, I was at the Lai Lai Hotel coffee shop with someone from Washington, DC, chatting about US-China policy, when I excused myself to answer my cell phone. A reporter from the Independent Morning Post was on the line....

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10. The Glorious Revolution

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pp. 259-277

On December 10, 1999, twenty years to the day since the Formosa Incident, two decades since the night of tear gas and strife, Chen Shui-bian and I shared the stage in a much different venue. With several hundred of Taiwan’s most famous women and political leaders, we gathered in a ballroom at the Grand Hyatt Taipei for an event celebrating...

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pp. 278-284

As the first woman to be elected vice president of Taiwan, Lu Hsiu-lien personally participated in what many pundits saw as the final stage of Taiwan’s democratic transition. Yet euphoria over the electoral victory and the transition of power from the Nationalists to the Democratic Progressive Party government was short-lived....


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pp. 285-292

Glossary of Names

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pp. 293-300


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pp. 301-314


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pp. 315-330

E-ISBN-13: 9780295805054
E-ISBN-10: 0295805056
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295993645
Print-ISBN-10: 0295993642

Page Count: 344
Publication Year: 2014

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Lü, Xiulian.
  • Vice presidents -- Taiwan -- Biography.
  • Taiwan -- Politics and government -- 2000-.
  • Taiwan -- Politics and government -- 1975-.
  • Human rights movements -- Taiwan.
  • Women politicians -- Taiwan -- Biography.
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