Experts Address Taiwan's Future at EPPS Symposium

UT Dallas' School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences hosted a symposium on the recent historic Taiwan elections that led to a victory for the state's pro-independence party.

The Taiwan Democracy Symposium included panel discussions with leading scholars from Taiwan and the United States, who explored the election’s outcome, participation of young voters, impact on Taiwan's relations with China, and future relations between Taiwan, China and the U.S.

The Greater Dallas Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce and the Taiwan and Asia Program at The University of Texas at Austin sponsored the event to help educate students and the public.

"The January elections resulted in a huge turnover, with the opposition party capturing the legislature and the presidency," said Dr. Karl Ho, clinical associate professor of political science, public policy and political economy. "This means there is potential for major change in public policy in Taiwan."

Taiwanese voters in January elected their first female president, Tsai Ing-wen, leader of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). The DPP also secured a solid majority in the democratic nation's legislature. The DPP's win raises questions about future relations between Taiwan and China.

"We're trying to help the American people understand the situation in Taiwan and to do our best to help Taiwan," said TingWhai Lee, the chamber of commerce's president elect.

Lee and Dr. Charles Ku, the chamber's senior overseas commissioner and honorary president, gave remarks at the event. John Chi, deputy director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Houston gave the inaugural address, and the keynote speaker was Dr. John Fuh-sheng Hsieh, professor of political science at the University of South Carolina.

The event also featured experts from Taiwan: Dr. Chia-hung Tsai, director of the Election Study Center at National Chengchi University and Dr. Alex Tan, chair professor at the Institute of Political Science at National Sun Yat-sen University.

"I think the dialogues between the U.S. and Taiwan scholars will be very interesting and provide insights into knowledge of U.S., Taiwan and China relations," said Dr. K.C. Lee, a visiting scholar from Taiwan. Lee co-organized the event with Dr. Harold Clarke and Ho.

"It's amazing to have so many leaders and well-known scholars convene to discuss democracy in Taiwan," said Clarke, Ashbel Smith Professor, an expert on voting and elections. "We're excited to have the opportunity to bring together experts and community members to analyze the election outcome and consider prospects for continued development of Taiwan’s youthful democracy."

Clarke and Ho have published research on voter attitudes in Taiwan, including a 2015 study published in the journal Electoral Studies that found significant generational differences in citizen political attitudes and behavior in that nation.

Posted March, 2016