Canberra Papers on Strategy and Defence No. 75
Taiwan, often neglected in the past, is being rediscovered by the rest of the world, post-Tiananmen. Taiwan, moreover, is increasingly conscious of the political leverage accruing from its status as the world's eleventh largest trading economy. It is, for example, a more important market for Australian exports than China, and its importance as a regional economic actor is growing rapidly. Last year it was one of the biggest investors in ASEAN, China, Hong Kong and Indochina. Domestically, Taiwan is in transition from a Kuomintang/mainlander dominated polity to one that is more attuned to the social, political and economic needs of the Taiwanese people. Any assessment about Taiwan however, must be balanced by consideration of certain risk factors, first and foremost amongst which is the insistence by both Beijing and the Kuomintang on reunification, an objective currently unacceptable to most Taiwanese except on conditions unacceptable to Beijing.
A specialist workshop on modern Taiwan was held in August 1990 by the Australian National University's Northeast Asia Program. Subjects discussed covered Taiwan's economic modernisation formula and its relevance for the 1990s; Taiwan's membership of regional economic organisations; the two Chinas issue; Taiwan's growing commercial ties with the mainland; the background and current developments in Taiwan's internal political development; the military/Kuomintang dynamic; and the Australia-Taiwan relationship. Papers from the workshop have been updated and revised for inclusion in this monograph. They have been supplemented by two detailed studies on Taiwan's maritime industry and Taiwan's economic relationship with the United States.
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