Dynamics Across the Taiwan Strait: 1949-Present

DATE: Thursday, September 17, 2009

PLACE: Heyns Room, The Faculty Club

SPONSORS: Institute of East Asian Studies, Center for Chinese Studies, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office



This event is free and open to the public. Space is limited; preference will be given to UC Berkeley faculty, students, and staff with a valid UC Berkeley ID.

Taiwan's history and current outlook are explored in the light of on-going and evoling relations with China. Panelists address Taiwan's political culture, democratic practice, and the negotiation of identity. The conference culminates with a keynote address by the Honorable Lien Chan, former Vice President of Taiwan.



Yomi Braester
Taipei Is Gone: The Invisible City on Film
Taipei's urban network can be understood only when one goes beyond what meets the eye and instead treats the city as a palimpsest of simultaneously existing layers. Taipei's material spaces are merely the visible part of a city mostly submerged in memory. Film has played an important role during the transformation of Taipei's cityscape, reproducing images of the disappearing landmarks-not to wallow in nostalgia but rather to emphasize the coexistence, in the collective memory, of the city in its various past, present, and future forms.

Melissa Brown
Authenticity and Change in Taiwan's Identities
Identities can change, and new identities can be authentic. This fluidity comes from the dynamics of social experience, broadly construed to include political enfranchisement and economic opportunity. Moreover, authorities can influence collective identities by shaping individuals' social experience, often via policies linked to ethnic labels. The Japanese colonial government changed plains Aborigine identities, the Nationalist martial-law-era government created the opposition of Taiwanese and Mainlander identities, democratization formed a multi-ethnic Taiwan national identity, and increasing contacts with China is currently reshaping the relation between Taiwanese and Chinese identities. New identities can become authentic identities, if they match social experience. However, divergent social experience predicts manipulative failures, as with Japanese colonial and Nationalist attempts to assimilate Taiwanese by fiat. Social experience is the key to understanding past and future identities in Taiwan.

Lien Chan
Sixty Years of Cross-Straits Relations: From Conflict to Conciliation
The complex relationship between China and Taiwan has evolved considerably since the events of 1949. Former Vice-President of Taiwan Lien Chan, who has been instrumental in reaching out to China, takes a look back at relations as they have developed and assesses the prospects for relations between China and Taiwan.

Leo Ching
Colonial Nostalgia and Postcolonial Anxiety: Japan, Taiwan, and the Discourse of Intimacy
It is often asserted that Taiwan and Japan share an intimate relationship. From the former Taiwanese president Lee Teng-hui to the former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, from Taiwanese public intellectual Jing Mei-ling to Japanese manga/media celeb Kobayashi Yoshinori, Japanese colonialism is variably reflected as an enabling and productive experience in stark contrasts with postwar Nationalist rule in Taiwan or Communist rule on the mainland. As the first overseas colony of the Japanese empire, Taiwan was considered a "laboratory" of colonial experimentation and as the showcase of a non-Western imperialist accomplishment. As Kobayashi depicts in his comic On Taiwan, unlike the "exploitative" and the "plundering" types of Western expansionism, Japanese colonialism was "developmentalist" in its logic and intent and has brought the fruits of modernization to its colonized peoples. This sentiment of a benevolent colonial rule is often corroborated by older Taiwanese who recall fondly lives under Japanese rule. However, this sentiment of intimacy and goodwill is especially perverse and problematic given the plethora historical documentation of the reverse: Japanese colonialism is equally corruptive, discriminatory, exploitative, and abusive, as other imperialist endeavors. How are we to account for the disparity between an alleged colonial benevolence and the very real colonial violence in Taiwan's modern history? The paper argues that nostalgia is a political act of (re)membering and (dis)membering that has less to do with the "real" conditions of colonialism than an imagined desire located in the anxiety-ridden postcolonial present. I suggest that it is the peculiar failure of decolonization that retroactively constructs the discourse of intimacy between Taiwan and Japan. For the Taiwanese, colonial Japan emerged as desire to counter the historical trauma of postcolonial Nationalist rule and the contemporary rise of China. For the Japanese, it is the anxiety of the post-bubble economic and social disintegration that the former empire reemerged as desire for a stronger and expansive Japan. It is the fear of the rise of China and the decline of Japan — a postcolonial reversal — that a discourse of intimacy between the former colonizer and colonized is reconstituted as a temporary resistance to the reconfiguration of power in East Asia.

Lowell Ditmer
American Strategic Interests and Taiwan Strait Relations
The Taiwan Strait issue — reunification, Taiwan independence, or the status quo — has been among the most contentious to roil Sino-American relations since WW II, and to say it has been neglected by analysts is an overstatement. My own focus will be on the strategic, triangular dimension rather than on the legal or moral aspect, as this is seen to implicate US foreign policy in the Asian Pacific.

Tom Gold
IUP Across the Taiwan Strait
The Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies (IUP) trained a significant number of Americans scholars of Chinese history, literature, politics, sociology and anthropology during its time at National Taiwan University, 1964-1997. During most of the period, American scholars did not have the opportunity to study Chinese or conduct research on mainland China.

China's reform and opening has seen an explosion of language programs on the mainland, and IUP itself moved to Tsinghua University in Beijing in 1997. Only a small percentage of students and scholars go to Taiwan for language training anymore. To provide this new generation of students and scholars with an opportunity to learn about opportunities for language study, research, business, reporting, activism, collaborative research and conferences, in 2003 IUP, in collaboration with National Cheng-chih University in Taipei, inaugurated the Taiwan Familiarization Program. To date, 6 groups of students from IUP Beijing, have gone to Taiwan for a week of intense introduction to the general situation on the island as well as learning about their own specific areas of interest and meeting colleagues. IUP hopes that, in addition to deepening understanding of Taiwan, IUP can serve as one bridge among many across the Strait.

Shelley Rigger Strawberry Jam: Politics and Identity in Taiwan's Strawberry Generation
Taiwan's young generation is often dismissed as the "strawberry tribe." Young people are stereotyped as beautiful, but easily bruised (like strawberries), as well as selfish, materialistic and lazy. They also face criticism for their lack of political engagement and passion. Because few youth participate in partisan politics, they are often criticized for "not loving Taiwan." This paper uses data collected from focus groups to show that Taiwanese youth are not indifferent to Taiwan's fate. On the contrary, they are deeply attached to Taiwan. However, they are deterred from becoming involved in politics both because they are skeptical of politics-as-usual in Taiwan and because they do not see any political party accurately reflecting their identities and preferences.

Emma Teng
On the Limitations of Taiwan's Postcoloniality: A Historical Perspective on Taiwan-China Relations
The Taiwan-China relationship is one of the most highly fraught in international relations today, a situation that goes back to the Chinese Civil War and the founding of the People's Republic of China. Yet while many are familiar with the historical events that divided Taiwan from China in 1949, they are less familiar with the history of how Taiwan came to be part of China in the first place. Indeed, when the Qing Dynasty first conquered Taiwan in 1683, the imperial court debated the value of colonizing this "ball of mud," which many viewed as utterly beyond the pale. A mere two centuries later, in 1895, the cession of Taiwan to Japan was viewed as a scandalous loss of sacred national territory. Examining Qing travel writing, ethnographic illustrations, and maps, my work examines Taiwan's trajectory from a worthless "ball of mud" to a Chinese province, and symbolically important part of China's "sovereign territory." I ask how this earlier history of Chinese colonization of the island might help us to view the China-Taiwan relation, and Taiwan's postcoloniality, in a new light.

Alan Wachman
Cross-Strait Controversy: What Has Changed, What Has Not?
Despite changes in the leadership, ideology, governing structure, identity, international status, military might, diplomatic standing, economic development, and social structure of both the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China, the cross-Strait controversy has persisted for sixty years. Since May, 2008, intransigence and belligerence have dissipated as evidence of collaboration, mutual accommodation, and intensified interaction have materialized between Beijing and Taipei. Much has been made of what are presumed to be the salutary effects of extensive and regularized cross-Strait intercourse and commercial interdependence.

Focusing on all that has changed, some observers sense dramatic movement toward resolution of the enduring conflict. There are, though, elements of the cross-Strait controversy that have not changed. Beyond that, some factors affecting the cross-Strait relationship have changed in ways that may reinforce perceptions and attitudes that impede resolution. The point of this presentation is that change and apparent good will do not necessarily foretell a resolution. One must be wary of allowing either one's hopes — or fears — cloud a clear-sighted view of what is really at stake and what remains to be changed before a resolution of the enduring cross-Strait dispute should be expected.

Robert Weller
Democratic Culture, Responsive Authoritarianism and Political Change in Taiwan
Authoritarian regimes reject democracy as a way of understanding and reacting to social needs, but long-lasting ones foster alternate mechanisms. Taiwan before democratization developed various forms of responsive authoritarianism: some allowed the formal expression of social desire through corporatist techniques, while others tolerated informal and sometimes extra-legal forms of expression. This essay concentrates on some of the informal mechanisms, with particular attention to their role in the later consolidation of democracy. The primary cases include: (1) local protest movements; (2) early assertions of Taiwanese identity; and (3) the flowering of local temple worship. In general, these developments appeared to have little political significance at the time, and in some cases were dismissed because of their premodern roots. Nevertheless, all proved to be important in the process of Taiwan's democratic consolidation. The essay concludes with a brief examination of similarities and differences from the situation in mainland China.

Wen-hsin Yeh
Democratic Practice and Language Politics: Reading Taiwan's Media
The history of Taiwan's post-1945 media is uniquely complicated by the politics of language between Mandarin and Minnan. This preliminary paper examines the choice of language in print and broadcasting, including the transformation of such practices in recent decades. It seeks to describe the rise of a "Minnan Mandarin" and explore its significance against the backdrop of Taiwan's post-Cold War democratization.


Thursday September 17

8:00 AM - Morning coffee service

8:15 AM - Welcome and Introductory Remarks

Wen-hsin Yeh, Director, Institute of East Asian Studies

Democratic Practices and Political Culture in Taiwan
8:30 AM — 12:00 PM

Chair: Robert Scalapino — UC Berkeley, Emeritus

Paper Presenters

Wen-hsin YehDemocratic Practice and Language Politics: Reading Taiwan's Media

Robert WellerDemocratic Culture, Responsive Authoritarianism and Political Change in Taiwan

Lowell DittmerAmerican Strategic Interests and Taiwan Strait Relations

Thomas GoldIUP Across the Taiwan Strait

Alan WachmanCross-Strait Controversy: What Has Changed, What Has Not?

Discussant: Kevin O'Brien — Political Science, University of California, Berkeley

12:00 — 1:00 PM - Lunch break

Identity Politics and Collective Memories in Taiwan
1:00 — 3:30 PM

Chair: Andrew Jones — East Asian Languages and Cultures, UC Berkeley

Paper Presenters

Melissa Brown — Authenticity and Change in Taiwan's Identities

Shelley RiggerStrawberry Jam: Politics and Identity in Taiwan's Strawberry Generation

Yomi BraesterTaipei Is Gone: The Invisible City on Film

Emma TengOn the Limitations of Taiwan's Postcoloniality: A Historical Perspective on Taiwan-China Relations

Leo ChingColonial Nostalgia and Postcolonial Anxiety: Japan, Taiwan, and the Discourse of Intimacy

Ming-cheng Lo — Sociology, University of California, Davis

3:30 — 4:00 PM - Break

Keynote Address
4:00 PM

The Honorable Lien Chan — Former Vice-President, Taiwan
Chairman, Lien Chan Foundation for Peace and Development
Honorary Chairman, Kuomintang Party
Chairman, National Policy Foundation
Sixty Years of Cross-Straits Relations: From Conflict to Conciliation

The complex relationship between China and Taiwan has evolved considerably since the events of 1949. Former Vice-President of Taiwan Lien Chan, who has been instrumental in reaching out to China, takes a look back at relations as they have developed and assesses the prospects for relations between China and Taiwan.

Introduced by: Robert Price — Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, UC Berkeley
Respondent: Michael Szonyi — East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University



Yomi Braester, Comparative Literature, University of Washington
Yomi Braester is an Associate Professor in the Dept. of Comparative Literature in the Department of Asian Languages and Literature at the University of Washington. He received his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1998. His book Witness Against History: Literature, Film and Public Discourse in Twentieth-Century China was published by Stanford University Press in 2003. Forthcoming publications include "Cinema at the City's Edge: Film and Urban Networks in East Asia" (co-edited with James Tweedie) and "Painting the City Red: Chinese Cinema and the Urban Contract."

Melissa Brown, Anthropology, Stanford University
Melissa J. Brown is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Stanford University. She has conducted research in both Taiwan and China on topics related to identity, women's labor, marriage, demography, social and co-evolutionary theory. Her publications include: Is Taiwan Chinese? The Impact of Culture, Power, and Migration on Changing Identities (University of California Press, 2004) and Explaining Culture Scientifically (University of Washington Press, 2008).

Leo Ching, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Duke University
Leo Ching is chair and associate professor at the department of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies at Duke University. He is the author of Becoming 'Japanese': Colonial Taiwan and the Politics of Identity Formation (UC Press, 2001). His articles have appeared in positions, boundary 2, Public Culture, etc. He is currently completing a book manuscript on anti-Japanism and popular culture in postwar postcolonial East Asia.

Lowell Dittmer, Political Science, UC Berkeley
Lowell Dittmer received his Ph.D. from The University of Chicago in 1971. His scholarly expertise is the study of contemporary China. He teaches courses on contemporary China, Northeast Asia, and the Pacific Rim. His current research interests include a study of the impact of reform on Chinese Communist authority, a survey of patterns of informal politics in East Asia, and a project on the China-Taiwan-US triangle in the context of East Asian regional politics. Professor Dittmer's recently published books and monographs include Sino-Soviet Normalization and Its International Implications (University of Washington Press, 1992), China's Quest for National Identity (with Samuel Kim, Cornell University Press, 1993), China Under Modernization (Westview Press, 1994), and South Asia's Nuclear Crisis (M.E. Sharpe, 2005).

Thomas Gold, Sociology, UC Berkeley
Thomas B. Gold is Professor of Sociology at UC Berkeley. He received a Masters in Regional Studies-East Asia from Harvard University and then a PhD in Sociology from the same institution. After finishing Oberlin, he taught English at Tunghai University in Taichung, Taiwan. He later worked as a Chinese interpreter-escort for the Department of State. At Berkeley he has also served as Chair of the Center for Chinese Studies and is the Associate Dean of International and Area Studies for External Relations. Gold's research focuses on many aspects of the societies of East Asia, particularly mainland China and Taiwan. His publications on mainland China have covered numerous topics, including youth, popular culture, personal relations, civil society, and private business. He co-edited (with Doug Guthrie and David Wank), Social Connections in China: Institutions, Culture, and the Changing Nature of Guanxi (Cambridge, 2002), (with Victoria Bonnell), The New Entrepreneurs of Europe and Asia: Patterns of Business Development in Russia, Eastern Europe and China (Sharpe 2002), and (with William Hurst and Jaeyoun Won) "Xiagang: Laid-Off Workers in a Workers' State," currently under review. He intends to get back to a book-length project on private business in China

Ming-cheng Lo, Sociology, University of California, Davis

Kevin O'Brien, Political Science, UC Berkeley

Shelley Rigger, Political Science, Davidson College
Shelley Rigger is the Brown Professor of East Asian Politics at Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina. She has a PhD in Government from Harvard University and a BA in Public and International Affairs from Princeton University. She has been a visiting researcher at National Chengchi University in Taiwan (2005) and a visiting professor at Fudan University in Shanghai (2006). Rigger is the author of two books on Taiwan's domestic politics, Politics in Taiwan: Voting for Democracy (Routledge 1999) and From Opposition to Power: Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (Lynne Rienner Publishers 2001). She has published articles on Taiwan's domestic politics, the national identity issue in Taiwan-China relations and related topics. Her current research studies the effects of cross-strait economic interactions on Taiwan people's perceptions of Mainland China. Her monograph, Taiwan's Rising Rationalism: Generations, Politics and "Taiwan Nationalism" was published by the East West Center in Washington in November 2006.

Michael Szonyi, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University
Michael Szonyi teaches at Harvard University. He received his BA from the University of Toronto and his D.Phil from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He has also studied at National Taiwan University and Xiamen University. Prior to coming to Harvard in 2005, Prof. Szonyi taught at McGill University and University of Toronto. His main research interests are the local history of southeast China, especially in the Ming dynasty; the history of Chinese popular religion, and Overseas Chinese history. He has recently completed a new book, "Cold War Island: Quemoy on the Front Lines," that will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2008.

Emma Teng, Chinese Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Emma Jinhua Teng is the T.T. and Wei Fong Chao Chair of Asian Civilizations and an Associate Professor of Chinese Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Professor Teng earned her Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University, where she specialized in Chinese colonial travel literature of the late imperial period. Her first book, Taiwan's Imagined Geography: Chinese Colonial Travel Writing and Pictures, 1683-1895, a study of Chinese colonial discourses on Taiwan, places the China-Taiwan relationship in the historical context of Chinese imperial expansionism. Professor Teng was an American Fellow of the American Association for University Women (1996-97), a J. Paul Getty Postdoctoral Fellow in the History of Art and the Humanities (2000-2001), and holder of the MIT Class of 1956 Career Development Professorship (2002-2005). In 2005 she was awarded the Levitan Prize in the Humanities and was a co-winner (with Professor Erik Demaine of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) of the MIT Edgerton Faculty Achievement Award. She was granted a Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship for Recently Tenured Scholars by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) and spent 2007-2008 as a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. She is currently working on a manuscript comparing Chinese and Chinese American representations of Eurasian interracialism at the turn of the 20th century.

Alan Wachman, International Politics, Tufts University
Alan M. Wachman is an associate professor of international politics at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He teaches and writes about issues arising from China's foreign relations, emphasizing links between diplomatic history and contemporary international security. He is currently completing a book about Mongolia's national security in the context of emerging rivalries among great powers in Asia. His other books include Why Taiwan: Geostrategic Rationales for China's Territorial Integrity (Stanford, 2007) and Taiwan: National Identity and Democratization (M.E. Sharpe 1994). Wachman has contributed articles to policy and academic journals in the U.S. and abroad and is on the editorial board of Asia Policy, China Security, and Issues and Studies. He has been awarded grants for research by the Smith Richardson Foundation, the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, and the East West Center, and was a Fellow in the Program on Peace, Governance, and Development in East Asia as a guest lecturer at institutions in Beijing, Seoul, and Tokyo (2008-2009). Wachman served in New York as the president of China Institute in America (1995-1997) and was the American Co-Director of the Johns Hopkins University-Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies in the PRC (1993-1995). He has lived in Nanjing, Taipei and Taichung and travels regularly to Asia. Wachman received an A.B. in Fine Arts and an A.M. and a Ph.D. in Government from Harvard University, as well as a master of arts in law and diplomacy from The Fletcher School.

Robert Weller, Anthropology, Boston University
Robert P. Weller is Professor and Chair of Anthropology and Research Associate at the Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs at Boston University. His most recent book is Ritual and Its Consequences: An Essay on the Limits of Sincerity (Oxford 2008, co-authored with A. Seligman, M. Puett, and B. Simon). Other recent books include Discovering Nature: Globalization and Environmental Culture in China and Taiwan (Cambridge 2006), which explores the introduction of new ways of thinking about humanity and nature in 20th-century China and Taiwan, and Alternate Civilities: Chinese Culture and the Prospects for Democracy (Westview 1999), which looks at the role of Chinese culture in democratization. Weller's present research focuses on the role of religion in creating public social benefits in Chinese communities in China, Malaysia, and Taiwan.

Wen-hsin Yeh, History, UC Berkeley
Wen-hsin Yeh is the Richard H. and Laurie C. Morrison Chair Professor in History and Director of the Institute of East Asian Studies at UC Berkeley. A leading authority on 20th century Chinese history, she is author or editor of eleven books and numerous articles examining aspects of Republican history, Chinese modernity, the origins of communism and related subjects. Her books include the Berkeley Prize-winning Provincial Passages: Culture, Space, and the Origins of Chinese Communism (University of California Press, 1996) and The Alienated Academy: Culture and Politics in Republican China, 1919-1937 (Harvard University, 1990). Her most recent publication, Shanghai Splendor (University of California Press, 2007) is an urban history of Shanghai that considers the nature of Chinese capitalism and middle-class society in a century of contestation between colonial power and nationalistic mobilization.



The conference "Dynamics Across the Taiwan Strait, 1949-Present" will be held in the Heyns Room of the Faculty Club, UC Berkeley. The Heyns Room is on the first floor, which is wheelchair accessible.

Campus map
Directions to the Faculty Club

The Faculty Club is located in the southeast region of campus. Please find the Faculty Club in section C5 of this campus map.


If traveling by BART, exit the Richmond-Fremont line at the Berkeley station (not North Berkeley). When you leave the BART station, walk south down Shattuck Avenue to Bancroft Avenue (two or three blocks depending on which station exit you leave from) and turn left. Walk six blocks to College Avenue and turn left onto campus. Follow the path between Kroeber Hall, Wurster Hall, Hertz Hall, and Minor Hall until you reach the Faculty Club, which is nestled among the trees next to the Faculty Glade.

From Interstate 80

To reach the site by car from Interstate 80, exit at the University Avenue off-ramp in Berkeley. Take University Avenue east to Oxford Street and turn right. Oxford becomes Fulton Street in a couple of blocks. Turn left onto Durant Avenue, then left onto College Avenue. Turn left onto Bancroft Avenue. The Faculty Club is located on campus, closest to the intersection of Bancroft Avenue and College Avenue. The Faculty Club is located near Hertz Hall and Minor Hall.

From Highways 24/13

To reach us from Highways 24/13, exit 13 at Tunnel Road in Berkeley. Continue on Tunnel Road as it becomes Ashby. Turn right at College Avenue and drive approximately one mile north to Bancroft Way and turn left. The Faculty Club is located on campus, closest to the intersection of Bancroft Avenue and College Avenue. The Faculty Club is located near Hertz Hall and Minor Hall.

Directions to campus are also available at www.berkeley.edu/visitors/traveling.html

Parking at UC Berkeley

There are various public parking lots and facilities near the Berkeley campus and in downtown Berkeley. This list includes municipal and privately owned parking lots and garages open to the public. Please consult signs for hours and fees prior to entering the facilities.

Other lots:

  • Berkeley Way near Shattuck
  • Center Street near Shattuck
  • Allston Way near Shattuck
  • Kittredge Street near Milvia

More information is available on the UC Berkeley Parking and Transportation page.