From Island Factory to Asian Centre: Democracy and Deregulation in Taiwan

Author/s (editor/s):

Gregory W. Noble

Publication year:


Publication type:

Working paper

Find this publication at:
IR Working Paper 1997/5 (PDF, 4.59MB)

Gregory W. Noble, 'From Island Factory to Asian Centre: Democracy and Deregulation in Taiwan', IR Working Paper 1997/5, Canberra: Department of International Relations, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University, October 1997.

How have the capitalist powerhouses of East Asia reacted to the economic, demographic and international pressures to liberalise policies and structures that once brought growth but are now assailed as obstacles to further development? The record of Taiwan's attempts to satisfy stiff demands by trade partners in preparation to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) and to turn Taiwan into an 'Asian Pacific Regional Operating Center' (APROC) for local and foreign multinational corporations shows that neither democratic institutions nor the process of democratisation have posed insurmountable obstacles to liberalisation in the trade-dependent East Asian economies. The major impediments to reform emanated not from newly emboldened economic interest groups or particularistic legislators, but from the remnants of the old statist coalition, including, surprisingly, public sector labor unions. When the top leadership of the ruling party made economic reform a major priority, it managed to overcome both forms of opposition to liberalisation. The remaining dilemma is not so much how to deregulate, as how to administer necessary regulations efficiently.

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