Taiwan: Beyond the Economic Miracle

By Michael Y. M. Kau; Denis Fred Simon | Go to book overview

and the KMT. Nonetheless, the sometimes freewheeling print media have substantially expanded their coverage of sensitive subjects, such as news from the PRC and opposition activities and views.

Television and radio remain tightly controlled by the authorities. The authorities partially or wholly own all three of the island's television stations. Television coverage of sensitive political subjects is restricted and slanted. Oppositionists charge that the military and the governing authorities control or own 82 percent of the radio stations in Taiwan. Requests by opposition politicians to open their own radio station have been turned down by the authorities, who claim there are no frequencies available. As its top priority, the DPP is pressing the government to permit the establishment of at least an independent new TV network.

It is impossible to overemphasize the positive role played by the media in Taiwan's democratization. Despite government constraints, the media not only have strived to expand the press freedom, but have also enhanced the cause of democratization, reform, and liberalization. The media communicate; they help mobilize the masses for political participation. Through their functions to inform and criticize, they focus public attention on issues, and are highly influential in setting the public agenda, thus forcing the government to respond. This is especially true in Taiwan's policy toward the mainland. The press has done much to whip up the "mainland fever," compelling the government to open up and expand Taiwan's economic, social, and cultural contacts with the mainland.


Notes
1.
See Edwin A. Winckler, "Institutionalization and Participation on Taiwan: From Hard to Soft Authoritarianism," The China Quarterly, no. 99 ( September 1984): 482-99.
2.
The mayors of these two municipalities, which are under the "direct central administration," are appointed by the central government, not elected by the voters. After many years of popular criticism, the KMT government has agreed to allow the citizens in Taiwan's two largest cities to elect their mayors, possibly in 1992. Whether or not the governor of Taiwan would become an elected office remains to be seen.
3.
There are two categories of legislators--those elected in Taiwan who face reelection every three years, and those elected mostly on the mainland in 1948 who still claim to represent the constituencies on the mainland, on which they have not set foot for more than four decades. Until now, the latter was in the overwhelming majority.
4.
Hung-mao Tien, The Great Transition: Political and Social Change in the Republic of China ( Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1989), 7.
5.
In 1978-79, the authorities broke up several scheduled public meetings of the opposition, and on December 9, 1979, the police clashed with the demonstrators in a Human Rights Day rally in Kaohsiung. Soon thereafter, the authorities arrested the staff of the magazine Formosa and other opposition activists who organized the rally, charging them with a plot to overthrow the government. Eight key opposition figures were given long jail terms, ranging from twelve years to life imprisonment. They have been released one by one in recent years, and most of them are again active in politics, leading the opposition.
6.
Parris H. Chang, "Evolution of Taiwan's Political Leadership after Chiang Ching-kuo,"

-41-

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