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In his, book Taiwan: a new history, Rubinsten Murray gives the social, economic and political development of Taiwan. Tracing the historical changes from the Neolithic era, Murray highlights the economic and political landmark in the Taiwan history. Socially, the Taiwan population was constantly increasing thus, putting pressure on its economy.
Politically, Taiwan had strained relationship with its neighbors like the China, an issue, which led to wars. However, the United States of America, declined to weaken the political aggression between the two states. Fortunately, in 1950 the U.S accepted to intervene and assist Taiwan towards creating internal reforms.
Therefore, the next discussion not only gives the summary of Murray’s book (Chapters 11 and 14) but also focuses on the impact of the Republic of China (ROC) towards the political, economic and social development of Taiwan.
In the mid 20th century, China accelerated the commencement of the civil war. The political aggression in China consequently, affected Taiwan (colony of china). Although the national troops of China seemed victorious, the economic development in both china and Taiwan lagged behind. In addition, the United States, the super power at that time, distanced itself from the civil war in China/Taiwan.
However, the commencement of the Korean War sparked the U.S to assist in reforming Taiwan thus, resulting in the creation of a new political picture. Taiwan became independent from China thus, leaving the ROC and PRC to continue fighting for leadership.
Through economic and military assistance, the U.S engineered Taiwan towards internal reforms. Consequently, bureaucracy, corruption and other evil practices were some of the vices the internal reforms abolished. Some of the members (old) of Kuomintang (KMT) who possessed the aforementioned vices lost their positions and the young members took over.
Surprisingly, there was exodus of political members from China to Taiwan but they had to register with the national party within the allotted time. The central reform committee established the Sun Yat- sen institute, which specialized in instilling policy research mechanisms and political development in the members.
Therefore, through training and promotion of self-examination skills, disciplines and other forms of virtues, the Taiwan national party assumed a different political structure, which sparked economic and social development.
The national party promoted economic development, which led to a decline in the inflation rates in Taiwan. Subsequently, the government introduced the New Taiwan dollar, which had a higher value than the previous currency.
The government initiated a 7% interest rate in order to attract the excess money that was in the economy. Subsequently, the inflation rate decreased from 3000% to 300% and then to 8.8 % thus, stabilizing the economy of Taiwan.
Secondly, the political reforms also initiated land reforms for instance; property owners had to reduce the rent as per the government’s request and the public land was available to the citizens at a favorable price. Through the land reforms, the landless farmers acquired land at a favorable price, which initiated high agricultural produce.
Furthermore, there was establishment of agricultural reforms and the farm rates in Taiwan stood at U.S $ 114 million. The government controlled the sale of rice (major cash crop in Taiwan) and subsidized the price of fertilizer in the region.
The American joint commissions on rural reconstruction together with the China aid act monitored the farmers and projects in the rural areas. On the other hand, through the U.S military and advisory group the Taiwan government received aid from the U.S. consequently, the national party and Chiang Kai-Shek the leader of Taiwan gladly acknowledged the economic development Taiwan was undergoing.
The introduction and subsequent creation of a new economic and social structure in Taiwan led to the signing of various international agreements. Secondly, Taiwan opted to refrain from either civil or international wars. The mutual defense treaty ensured that the U.S assisted Taiwan during external attacks.
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However, when the people republic of china (PRC) took over part of island Taiwan protected the important areas, which included Quemoy and Ma-tsu. However, the ROC and PRC, which were in constant opposition, faced tough decision in establishing international ties.
On the other hand, through the constitution and strong party policies KMT and the national party adequately controlled the socio-economic development of Taiwan. U.S as a Taiwan ally processed international trade in terms of raw material and establishment of industries. However, the imbalance in the export and import rate led to a deficit in the foreign currency.
Although Taiwan had created good educational, health, military and trade facilities, the political issue of multiparty arose leading to disagreements within the government. Socially, the equal distribution of wealth in Taiwan stabilized the political arena thus, not many people opposed the one party rule.
The sound economic and industrial established in Taiwan ranked it on the forefront of development even after the withdrawal of the United States in 1960. On the other hand, the political competition between PRC and ROC interfered with the inclusion of China as a member of United Nations.
Similarly, the Vietnam War, the relationship between ROC and the U.S and Taiwan strained the political development in China. Surprisingly, the urgency to acquire the mainland from China motivated the National party to concentrate on military party thus, forgetting about the cultural identity between Taiwanese and the Chinese people.
Pressure from philosophers and other writers from both China and Taiwan pushed the National government to allow democracy and Democratize progressive party was the first opposition party established in the early 1980s.
In addition, political democrats (intellects, liberals) pushed for the country’s detachment from the western countries more so, the U.S. The noncapitalist wanted the socioeconomic structure of Taiwan to change.
Due to possible back up from the Chinese ROC or mainland, the Taiwan national party feared that the opposition would destabilizes the political and economic arena in the country.
On the other hand, the social class especially the nativists launched attacks on the Chinese modern writers on the inability to contribute adequately to the political development in Taiwan. Both the Chinese and Taiwan literary writers not only dominated the cultural aspects but also promoted a patriarchal society where the males were superior to the females.
Consequently, the modern writers explore the human relationships in the Taiwan without keeping in mind the element of equality. However, the intellect community blames the influence from the western (United States) for altering the minds of the young writers thus, adopting a different language and writing style.
More over, the literary techniques like nihilism and agonism spread to China in the mid 20th century. Similarly, the Taiwan writers (fiction) adopted realism, which was like formal literature. While the reformist pushed the modern writers to invest in the culture and traditions of the Taiwanese, the young writers preferred to write in a western style.
Consequently, the Taiwanese writers were into two groups, which had acquired different literary and poetic techniques. Culturally, the Taiwan people adopted the Chinese and Mandarin practices in most of the schools.
The national party, which was more concerned on the political and economic development, forgot about the cultural development of the Taiwanese people leading to a deficit in the country. Although the promotion of capitalism and political democracy dominated Taiwan, the rise of political activists motivated the natives to push for a change.
Feedback on the reading
Analytically, Murray highlights the landmarks in the social, political and economic development in Taiwan. The author explicitly, outlines the political changes that occurred in Taiwan especially after the defeat of the communist party on the mainland.
Consequently, politicians like Chiang Kai-Shek relocated to Taiwan and established a stable government through the assistance of the United States of America. Therefore, Murray uses simple language to enlighten the society on the political development in Taiwan.
According to Murray’s book, Taiwan experienced political instability up to 1949, after which, the U.S assisted it in attaining independence from China. Thereafter, the push for political democracy changed the political arena in the country.
Competently, Murray gives detailed changes in the political system in Taiwan. He ties each change with a specific year thus, proving his professionalism.
Intuitively, Murray’s book is good for students, who want to embrace themselves with not only the politics of Taiwan but also to familiarize themselves with its ties with countries like China and the United States of America.
Secondly, while highlighting the economic development in Taiwan Murray gives explicit figures of the income and gross development of the country. He focuses on the trade, industrial and agricultural sectors by giving the systemic growth in each area.
Therefore, even economists who have interest in studying Taiwan will find the book useful. Thirdly, socially, he commends on the literary world in Taiwan, which proved to cause a tussle. The influence of America on the Taiwanese literary writers is among the areas he focuses on.
Consequently, the disagreement of the post modern and modern writes about, which area to emphasize in Taiwan are among the areas he highlights. Therefore, Murray does a wide research on the socioeconomic changes in Taiwan to give a well-structured book. Furthermore, Murray refers to other writers thus, giving his work authenticity, originality and realism.
In brief, through highlighting the political, economic and social changes in Taiwan, Murray explores the attitude of ROC party towards Taiwan. The U.S.A is the major contributor to the political and economic stability of Taiwan.
The commencement of political reforms in the mid 20th century was the turning point for Taiwan. Through military and financial assistance, Taiwan rose above other Asian countries and spearheaded economical development in the region.
Although the lack of democracy sparked unrests in the region, the national party solved the issue in the 1980s when it allowed in the opposition party. Murray uses a simple English to mark the major personalities and contributors to the development of Taiwan.
Alluding from other writers, he researches on the economy, political and literary changes in the region. More so, through conducting an explicit research he rates the economic changes in figures (in terms of money/dollars) and the political advancement in years.
Therefore, the book is good for a wide audience like schools, colleges/universities, politicians and economist among other groups.