Book Review: Neighbor of China, Taiwan

Book Review: Neighbor of China, Taiwan
Photo Credit: Reuters / 達志影像

By Kuan-Wei Wu/Ketagalan Media

Stéphane Corcuff of the University Lyon is a well-known and respected scholar on Taiwan, who is most famous for his research on the evolution of the post-1949 population in Taiwan, those who came to Taiwan with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT, hereinafter the Nationalists) retreat from the Chinese mainland.

His last book, published in Chinese in 2011, expands on that theme but digs much deeper into history. In Neighbor of China: Taiwan’s Liminality (中華鄰國:臺灣閾境性), Corcuff parallels two regimes that has ruled Taiwan in the past: the regime of Koxinga (鄭成功) in the late 1680s, and the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou along with the Nationalists he led at the dawn of the twenty-first century.

These two regimes, coincidentally (or perhaps not so coincidentally), are built by exiled loyalists to regimes that have lost their legitimacy as rulers of China. At the same time, they must encounter the new regime that has emerged on the Chinese mainland. Koxinga established his own realm in Taiwan under the banner of fighting the newly established Qing Empire, which had vanquished the Ming dynasty. Similarly, the Nationalists fled to Taiwan and setup an authoritarian government, after being defeated by the Chinese Communist Party in China.

In his conclusion of reading the two regimes in parallel, Corcuff points out where the two ultimately diverged: whereas in the 1680s Zheng Keshuang (鄭克塽, the third and last ruler of Koxinga’s regime) surrendered to the Qing Empire, the nascent civic society in the 2010s has taken Taiwan onto another developmental trajectory away from the phantom menace of China.

The News Lens has been authorized to repost this article. The full piece is published on Ketagalan Media here: Book Review: Neighbor of China, Taiwan

First Editor: Olivia Yang