Democratic chaos: how Taiwanese democracy destabilized cross-strait relations
Newberry, David A.
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Since 1988, democracy in Taiwan has evolved and developed a great deal. Experts argue whether this growth constitutes "democratic consolidation" but there is no contention of the idea that the ROC is more democratic now versus pre-1988. In addition, public opinion polls show that the populace view themselves very differently in 2004 than they did in 1988 in terms of their national identity and their preferences for mainland relations. Finally, the democratic period in Taiwan witnessed greater hostility between the PRC and ROC than in the preceding thirty years combined. This heightened level of belligerence has subsided in recent years, but still remains a Sword of Damocles hanging over each step of Taiwan's democratic process. With these facts in mind, it is clear that the addition of ROC democratization has destabilized relations between the China and Taiwan. One should note that Taiwan's political liberalization has not damned cross-strait relations to a cataclysmic fate. As noted many times in this essay there are prospects for hope and increased cooperation. However, with the advent of democracy for the first time in an ethnically Chinese society, relations moved from a fairly stable equilibrium to a somewhat chaotic new reality resplendent with uncertainty and ripe for catastrophic miscalculation.
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