Taiwan's political history is complex. Its political culture finds its origins in local family rule, China's bureaucratic system, and Japanese feudalism, with some influence from Aboriginal tribalism. After a brief period as a Dutch colony in the seventeenth century, Taiwan enjoyed a fleeting interval of self-government before two centuries of Chinese rule. However, it had no real or effective central government until it was colonized by Japan in 1895. After World War II, Taiwan's political system, which was transplanted from China by Chiang Kaishek, was outwardly democratic in form, based on Sun Yat-sen's ideas of republicanism. In fact, it was authoritarian, based on one-party rule, a strong executive, and pervasive police and military control. The past three or four decades have seen the development of a free-market economic system, an increasingly pluralistic society, and democratic reform. Constitutionalism, the rise of new political parties, competitive elections, greater regard for political and civil liberties, and a concern for Taiwan's image in the international community have produced a genuinely democratic polity. Taiwan's political system, however, is still evolving as regards interest groups, political authority, the party system, and political style.
The political culture that evolved in China over many centuries--transported to Taiwan by early immigrants and later by officials who were sent to govern the island from the late 1600s to 1895--was elitist; it did not assume or favor mass participation. Yet it was comparatively egalitarian; class was not a barrier to attaining a high position in government (although lack of education was and attaining education required leisure time and money). Chinese political culture was authori
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Publication information: Book title: Taiwan:Nation-State or Province?. Edition: 3rd. Contributors: John F. Copper - Author. Publisher: Westview Press. Place of publication: Boulder, CO. Publication year: 1999. Page number: 91.