Why Taiwan matters


Taiwan exhibits strong democratic tendencies, not because it has undergone a Westernizing cultural transformation, according to Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson. Until 2000, the KMT regime leveraged Confucian values to set itself apart from the Communist regime in China, and subsequent surveys have shown that Confucian values are even more deeply held in Taiwan than on the mainland, they write for Project Syndicate:

It is misguided to assert any kind of unbreakable link between cultural values and political systems. All cultures, and particularly Confucian ones, should be viewed as highly adaptable to changing circumstances. Political regimes can rest on many cultural frames.

While Confucius did say that “commoners do not debate matters of government,” he also emphasized that “a state cannot stand if it has lost the confidence of the people.” Confucian thought recommends respect and obedience to leaders only if they are virtuous. It thus follows that if a leader is not virtuous, he or she can – and perhaps should – be replaced. This perfectly valid interpretation of Confucian values underpins Taiwanese democracy. RTWT

Taiwan is a participant in the Sunnylands Initiative established in January 2020 by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), that convenes representatives from Australia, Japan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, and the United States.

“Despite growing challenges, the Indo-Pacific region has made incredible strides with successive waves of democratization, thanks to the resilience and determination of ordinary people who continue to aspire and struggle for fundamental freedom and human rights,” says NED President and CEO Damon Wilson. “The Sunnylands Initiative celebrates this impressive progress and will work to strengthen a regional commitment to democratic governance that delivers.”

The World Movement for Democracy will hold its 11th Global Assembly in Taipei, Taiwan, on October 24-27, 2022, to strengthen solidarity among democracy advocates around the world.

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