State and Society in the Taiwan Miracle

By Thomas B. Gold | Go to book overview

7
Industrial Upgrading and the Emergence of a Political Opposition, 1973-1984

The Resurgent Developmental State

The dislocations caused by the first oil crisis brought Taiwan's numerous vulnerabilities into sharp focus, and the rest of the decade was taken up with mitigating the hydra-headed menace. The mounting external economic, political, and military threats were beyond Taiwan's ability to control. In addition, for the first time, it appeared as if the meticulously crafted domestic arrangement was also unraveling. The fragile nature of Taiwan's economic foundation and special pact became obvious. The only actor capable of leading Taiwan through this minefield was the state. It adopted a strategy toward external and internal threats designed to ensure that in the short run, Taiwan could cope in its present form. For the longer run, it hoped to restructure the economy so as to anticipate and get a step ahead of events to gain some control of its own destiny.

To the mainlander- KMT regime, failure might mean the loss of its hegemony over Taiwan's society and eventually of the territory necessary to bolster its claim to be the legitimate Chinese government. To the people at large, failure might mean the end of their prosperous, capitalist, Western-oriented society and incorporation into the still unsettled People's Republic, one way or another.

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