AnzhiJiangDemocracyand Democratization in East and South AsiaJan16, 2018Democracy and NationalismIntroductionDemocracy and Nationalism seem to be two contradictoryideas, and the relation between them cannot be oversimplified as completelycomplementary or competing1.But in the case of Taiwan and South Korea, in my opinion, nationalism was apush factor for democratization, and it is necessary for a democratic regime tofunction. During the post-war era, the “fourlittle dragons” in East Asia developed in a tremendous speed economically.After two or three decades of rapid development, by the early 1990s, theybasically reached the standards of a moderately developed society. The WorldBank called this amazing development achievement “East Asian miracle”.2Economic development in this region has led to changes in social structure andfurther led to political changes.
From the late 1970s and early 1980s, a seriesof political changes took place in East Asia, and since then, South Korea andTaiwan successively started their democratization process. Taiwan and South Korea have manysimilarities. They both had an overlay of Confucianism before the twentiethcentury. Both had important Japanese colonial periods, and suffered understrong authoritarian regimes. And they both democratized.
Taiwanesenationalism, however, was born out of confrontation by pro-independence forcesagainst the KMT regime, and went through a transformation of turning into aso-called civic nationalism, while Korean Nationalism is a protection ofnational identity from foreign influence, and the fostering of the independencemovement during Colonial era3.The Korean Nationalism is also a kind of ethnic nationalism, which emphasizesthe importance of blood. But in both cases, Nationalism helped people to builda shared national identity during the post-war era, and during the process ofdecolonization, which positively promoted the democratization in bothcountries. Factorspushing democratization of Taiwan and South Korea After World War II, Taiwan was ruledby the Nationalist Party(KMT) and Taiwan’s economy experienced a rapiddevelopment since 1965. The process of industrialization achieved a huge progress,and by the mid-1980s, the Taiwanese society became completely different from atraditional agricultural society, which was a role Taiwan had been playing forthousands of years.
On the other hand, the achievements of South Korea’sindustrial economy are also very impressive, with an increasing GDP per capita from$278(1971) to $3049(1987).4The rapid development of industrial economy has promoted the diversity of a society,and Taiwan and South Korea both started the process of democratization aftertheir modernization had reached a certain level. In my opinion, economic developmentmay be one of the most significant pushing force of democratization, and inhistorical construction, because it could overthrow the old social class systemand hierarchy. As a result, a greater proportion of the people, especially themiddle-class, are willing participate in social and political decision-makingprocess. From a strategic point of view, sincethe 1970s, in response to the gradual apparent easing of the “ColdWar” relations between the East and the West and the continued occupationof the high ground in the ideology of the Western world, the United States hasbegun to vigorously brag around the so-called “promotion of democracy andhuman rights” foreign policy internationally. Taiwan and South Korea, astwo important allies of the US in East Asia, were applied with a lot ofpressure by the US diplomatically, because they were both separated countries,with another half occupied by Communist regimes.
Under pressure from the UnitedStates, Chiang Ching-kuo, the president of Taiwan and KMT at that time declaredthat Taiwan would be democratized. Meanwhile, on the Southern half of the Koreanpeninsula, the United States played a decisive role in the politicaldecision-making process through its military presence in South Korea. Nationalismin Taiwan and South Korea In spite of economic development andideological factors, what differs Taiwan and South Korea both before and after democratizationwas their perspective of nationalism. As mentioned, Taiwanese nationalism wasborn out of confrontation by pro-independence forces against the KMT regime,and went through a transformation of turning into a so-called civic nationalism.The KMT regime on Taiwan, from 1949 to the late 1980s, had been a special formof authoritarian regime, which divided the native elite into two groups, oneco-opted into the KMT regime and one not co-opted, helped forge two differentstrategic lines: the moderate line of those co-opted into the KMT and theradical line of those who formed the core of political opposition outside theKMT establishment.
KMT’s minority rule created a highly politicized ethniccleavage. In response to a divided group of elite, the tendency oftransformation of the regime by the radicals was to overthrow the KMT regimeand to nationalize politics, in order to build a new and independent Taiwan. The term “Taiwan independence” was redefinedor finally clarified by DPP but the goal of abolishing the ROC system andestablishing an independent Republic of Taiwan was to be pursued through thedemocratic procedure of referendum.
so DPP was willing to settle for the nameROC. As a result, the subversive, unruly, and emotional charged quest for Taiwaneseindependence was thus transformed into a rational and domesticatedparliamentary nationalism. A parliamentary nationalism, insofar as its goal wasto change the name and symbols of the state, was still revolutionary, but whatit advocated was now a revolution with votes.
Therefore, the DPP had recast itsTaiwanese nationalism as a liberal and civic nationalism under the contemporarydemocratic system of Taiwan. Meanwhile, in recent years, theextreme nationalist sentiments of South Korea have become even more prominentthan before. The main manifestation is that the “local economy”protectionism is economically pursued, the “ethnocentrism of the Hannationality” is culturally exacted, and the national “history makingmovement” is politically initiated. The emergence of South Koreanultra-nationalism is by no means accidental, but has profound historicalmotivation, social and cultural origins, and realistic basis. ContemporaryKorean nationalism mainly shows the following characteristics. First, there isa serious national economic protectionism. South Korea has been pursuing theso-called “our body and the soil are one (????) ” policy of national economic protectionism. The meaningof this policy has the principle that I was born in my own country, with theland that gave birth to my growth, and what produced in this land is the mostsuitable for me.
After the rise of South Korea’s economy, in order to protectits own national industry, the South Korean government has also taken advantageof the traditional notion of “body and soil”, thus, people who buyand use foreign goods were even accused of being unpatriotic. Second, in orderto create an imagined community, Korean nationalists usually emphasize theimportance of blood and claim a term called pure-blood. For Koreans, the historyof the Korean Peninsula has been a long and humiliating history shrouded in theshadow of the surrounding powers, eg. China and Japan. After World War II, inorder to dilute the external influence, the Korean government chose to emphasizethe national orthodoxy, the independence of the Korean peninsula, and the “pureblood” of Korean people. Impactof nationalism on democracy As the British political theorist DavidMiller argues, that if a democracy is to function, “citizens should be willingto moderate their claims in the hope that they can find common ground on whichpolicy decisions can be based.”5This common ground is guaranteed by nationalism.
According to Miller, he emphasizesthe ethical function of nationality, for while democracy emphasizes the ideathat everybody can participate in the debate on how to organize theircommunity, nationalism asserts the principle that we also care for each other. Inthat sense, nations are moral communities in which the general interests of thegroup are also part of individual interests. As mentioned above, Koreannationalism is more of an ethnic nationalism and Taiwanese nationalism can beconcluded as a kind of civic nationalism. In both cases, a shared nationalitydoes more than promote general political participation; it also provides the foundationfor an individual’s commitment to the nation and, in particular, anindividual’s willingness to support the welfare state.6 Futureof democracy in Taiwan and South Korea Lee Teng-hui’s landslide in thepresidential election of 1996 concluded the struggle between two lines withinthe movement of forming a nativized state in Taiwan. We also witness a gradualcoming close of these two lines. On one hand, the DPP slowly but progressivelydownplayed the significance of its Taiwanese independence platform and allowedmore and more flexibility in interpreting its meaning or meanings.
On the otherhand, under the increasing hostility of the PRC against Lee’s pragmaticdiplomacy, Lee also gradually toned down his reunification discourse andemphasized more about the subjectivity and sovereignty of Taiwan. These trendssuggested first the rise of pragmatism within the DPP and second the rise of ahostile and aggressive PRC as the most immediate common enemy of the Taiwanesepeople. Native Taiwanese had to facesettler colonialism.
Decolonization in this situation meant not only todemocratize and nativize the state power but also reintegrate the settler groupinto this newly structured and nativized state. The Taiwanese passive revolutionduring the 1990s accomplished ideologically is a solid domestic consensus onthe sovereignty. Talking about the future of Taiwan, however, the situationdepends heavily on its other half: China. On the other hand, in South Korea,after one decade of democratization, Kim Dae Jung was elected as the Presidentof South Korea in 1997, and the emergence of the Kim Dae Jung government was avery meaningful event because it was the first regime elected and also becausethe change of the regime was made by a democratic opposition party.
During thefollowing decade8! the Kim Dae Jung government and its successor government ledby President Roh Moo Hyun fulfilled a number of tasks of democratic reforms, suchas the promotion of the Sun shine Policy during the post Cold War era, which improvedinter-Korean relations to a great extent.7 Reference:1. Helbling,Marc. (2009). Nationalism and Democracy: Competing or Complementary Logics?Living Reviews in Democracy.
2. Sazanami,Yoko. “The East Asian Miracle: Economic Growth and Public Policy.”The Journal of Asian Studies 54, no.
1 (1995): 184. doi:10.2307/2058969.3. Shin,Gi-Wook (2006). Ethnic Nationalism in Korea. California: Stanford UniversityPress.
ISBN 0-8047-5407-1.4. MikioSumiya et ah, Taiwan no Keizai (The Economy of Taiwan), University of TokyoPress, 1991. 5.5. Miller,David.
1995. On Nationality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.6. Jung, Hae Gu; Kim, Ho Ki.
1993.Development of democratization movement in South Korea, Reports, Stanford,U.S. Stanford University,19. 1 Helbling, Marc. (2009). Nationalism andDemocracy: Competing or Complementary Logics? Living Reviews in Democracy. 2 Sazanami, Yoko.
“The East AsianMiracle: Economic Growth and Public Policy.” The Journal of Asian Studies54, no. 1 (1995): 184.
doi:10.2307/2058969.3 Shin, Gi-Wook (2006).
Ethnic Nationalismin Korea. California: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-5407-1.4 Mikio Sumiya et ah, Taiwan no Keizai(The Economy of Taiwan), University of Tokyo Press, 1991.
5.5 Miller, David. 1995. On Nationality.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.6 Helbling, Marc. (2009). Nationalism andDemocracy: Competing or Complementary Logics? Living Reviews in Democracy.7 Jung, Hae Gu; Kim, Ho Ki.
1993.Development of democratization movement in South Korea, Reports, Stanford,U.S. Stanford University,19.