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Reviews 175 Tse-Kang Leng. The Taiwan-China Connection: Democracy and Development across the Taiwan Strait. Transitions—Asia and Asian America. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1996. xiv, 157 pp. Hardcover $59.00, ISBN 0-8133-2982-5. Paperback $16.95, isbn 0-8133-9006-0. Brian Hook, editor. Fujian: Gateway to Taiwan. Regional Development in China, vol. 2. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 1996. xvii, 161 pp. Hardcover $69.00, isbn 0-19-586180-9. Paperback, isbn 0-19-586181-7. Erratum: The title, but not the review, ofthefirst book above appeared in the Table ofContents and on page 140 ofthe CRI 4:2 issue. We arepublishing the complete review in this issue. The Editors apologizefor any confusion or inconvenience this mistake may have caused. In the scholarship ofdevelopment, die statist approach, focusing on both a strong state autonomy and strong state capacity in explaining the economic miracle in East Asia, has recendy been challenged. This approach argues that in some countries the state indeed plays a leading role in development by facilitating rapid economic growth, whereas in other countries the state behaves like a predator, consuming the fruit of the burgeoning economy. Leng Tse-Kang's The TaiwanChina Connection, based on his doctoral dissertation, represents an effort to challenge the statist view. Leng focuses his analysis on the making of economic policy across the Taiwan Strait in the period of democratic transition on the island , arguing against the applicability of the "strong state paradigm" to post-authoritarian Taiwan. Leng begins with Taiwan's democratization process, arguing that the changed relationship between state and society in democratic Taiwan has weakened both the autonomy and capacity ofthe state, the strength ofwhich had been responsible for Taiwan's economic take-off in the authoritarian era. As Taiwan underwent democratization in the 1990s, the factional politics within the top hierarchy of the KMT regime and its alliance with business groups in pursuit ofmarket opportunities in China forced the regime to make concessions in the making ofits cross-Strait economic policy. Instead of the strong-state policy that had existed in the authoritarian decades, the KMT regime found itself now driven, on the one hand, by the pro-unification faction within the KMT and the pro-independence drive ofthe opposition party and, on the other, by strong pressure from the busi-© 1998 by Universityvvr 7 > ' _ íu ... „ ness sector, which demanded relaxed policies that would permit profit-seeking on ofHawai ? Press' r r r o the mainland. Since the top leaders ofthe KMT regime have always stood in the gray area between unification and independence, the regime has suffered from a 176 China Review International: Vol. 5, No. 1, Spring 1998 severe conflict of interest among the different departments within the state bureaucracy , and there has been a lack ofpolicy coordination. According to Leng, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the predominant agent responsible for Taiwan's cross-Strait policy, always gives national security first priority, and this often negates the business interests promoted by the Ministry of Economic Affairs. On the other hand, the MAC has often been in open conflict with the Strait Exchange Foundation (SEF), as it tries to put pressure on the SEF and suppress its autonomy, since the SEF, a nongovernment agency, engages in direct dialogue and negotiation with China on behalf of the MAC. Moreover, despite the official prohibition of direct investment and trade across the Strait, many Taiwanese business enterprises, botìi large and small, have joined the rush to the mainland without sanction from the state. The Taiwanese state has found itself crippled, unable to stop the wave of profit-seeking in China. According to Leng, as Taiwan's export-led economy is increasingly dependent on the Chinese market, this gives China the leverage to manipulate Taiwan's domestic economy and increase Taiwan's political vulnerability rather than leading to the mutual benefits promoted by liberal economists. Despite his illuminating analysis ofTaiwan's recent political developments and its economic relationship widi China, Leng's polemic against the "strong state paradigm" suffers from two difficulties. First, even though he refutes the "strong state paradigm" in post-authoritarian Taiwan, Leng seems almost unscrupulously to embrace its existence in the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 175-179
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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