Cultural Change in Postwar Taiwan

Cultural Change in Postwar Taiwan

Cultural Change in Postwar Taiwan

Cultural Change in Postwar Taiwan


"With its increasing wealth, a growing and better-educated urban population, and one of the world's largest trade surpluses, Taiwan has shed its identity as an impoverished, war-torn nation and joined the ranks of developed countries. Yet, despite the attention focused on the country's profound transformation, surprisingly little information exists on the concomitant changes that have occurred within the cultural matrix of arts and literature, religion and ritual, and the everyday life of Taiwan's people. This interdisciplinary study brings together perspectives from literature, anthropology, sociology, political science, economics, history, philosophy, and art to explore the culture of a fully industrialized society with a traditional Chinese background. In addition, the contributors explore the importance of key cultural influences on Taiwan such as traditional Chinese agrarian society, the legacy of Japanese colonialism, the cosmopolitan West, and the unique aspects of the indigenous way of life." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Between April lo and 14, 1990, a group of Chinese and American scholars gathered in Seattle to exchange their views on cultural change in post- war Taiwan in a five-day conference sponsored by National Taiwan University and the University of Washington. This book is the product of their joint efforts.

As honorary chairman of that international affair, I have been given the privilege and honor to offer a few remarks; and, as an economist by profession, I can hardly avoid beginning with some words about economic change.

Over the past forty or so years, the people of the Republic of China on Taiwan have vigorously engaged themselves in national development to accelerate their economic growth. Forty years ago, Taiwan was poor and underdeveloped and trying to recover from the devastation of World War II. One and a half million servicemen and civilians from the mainland poured into the island, increasing the population of six million by one- fourth. The per capita GNP then was less than U.S.$100. Low production, inflation, and the lack of capital and foreign exchange were keenly felt. Few people at the time looked forward to a bright future for Taiwan.

However, thanks to the concerted efforts of the people and government, the economy of Taiwan has progressed at an unprecedented pace. Taiwan has outstripped most other developing countries and areas, winning the admiration of the whole world. In 1990, with a per capita GNP of U.S.$7,997, Taiwan ranked high among the upper-middle-income countries, approaching the level of the industrially advanced countries. According to United Nations statistics, in 1988, among all countries and areas with a population of over one million, the Republic of China on Taiwan ranked nineteenth in GNP and twenty-fifth in per capita GNP. Lawrence R. Klein, professor of economics at the University of Pennsylvania and Nobel Prize winner in economics in 1980, once predicted that toward the end of this century, Taiwan would take the lead among the developing countries and cut a figure among the developed ones.

Quite a number of economists, both Chinese and foreign, are studying the strategies and policies adopted by Taiwan to find out the reasons for its economic success, in the hope that the "Taiwan experience" can serve . . .

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