Sovereignty, Democracy and Identity: Domestic Debates Over the Definition of the Nation in Taiwan


Par Barthélémy Courmont
Korean Journal of Defense Analysis, Vol. 23, n°4, 2011.

The legitimacy of Taiwanese sovereignty has been exposed to various interpretations over the past 60 years, oscillating between the Chinese heritage and the affirmation of a specific identity. The democratization of the former Chiang Kai-shek regime since the late 1980s has amplified the divergences between these two opposite postures, generating a domestic political debate that opposes the two biggest political parties and divides the Taiwanese population. Although different, these definitions of a Taiwanese identity and sovereignty have in common a constant reference to the Mainland and the current political regime of Communist China. They also play a key role in determining the strategic relationship with the United States and the affirmation of a defense policy vis-a-vis Beijing. This article explores the evolution of Taiwanese nationalism and its constant link with both Mainland China and the democratization of the regime, and analyzes the differences between the nationalist and the pro-independence postures and examines their consequences for the sovereignty of Taiwan and the definition of the nation.

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