China Seminar | 8 March 2018

Division and Reconciliation: Towards the “Turquoisation” of Taiwan Society

Bill Sharp Bill Sharp

Leaving behind its authoritarian, one party past, Taiwan became a beacon of democracy not only in Asia, but also to the former Soviet satellite countries in Eastern Europe. As much of an inspiration to others, it faces paralyzing political polarization. The talk will focus on the historic fissures in Taiwan society, cross-strait relations and Taiwanese identity, and other factors including political culture, globalization, inequality of wealth, demographic challenge, legislative and constitutional reform, transitional justice, semi-presidential system vs. parliamentary system, pension reform, labor standards reform, etc. Has Taiwan experienced a “backlash of democracy”? There is no longer any press censorship in Taiwan, but has the media contributed to political polarization? Examination will also be given to the values and beliefs that hold the green and the blue together, plus how the 2016 Presidential election and the staffing of the Tsai Ing-wen administration give hope for the “turquoisation” of Taiwan society. Mr. Sharp’s association with Asia started in 1968 while serving with US Army in Vietnam. He received an A.B. in Political Science (focused on Chinese and Japanese politics) from UC, Berkeley, a M.A. in Asian Studies from UHM, and an Ed.M. in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy from Harvard Univ. While at UH, he received the James Shigeta Award for Excellence in Asian Studies and the Lee-Shao Chang Award for Excellence in Chinese Studies. He studied Mandarin in both Taiwan and Beijing, taught English and was a free-lance writer in Japan in 1980s, and later was Executive Director of Japan-America Society of Hawaii. He taught at HPU for 23 years, hosts Asia in Review, a weekly TV show, and wrote “Look East,” a column for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. In 2016, he received the Taiwan Fellowship sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and researched Taiwan’s political polarization. Since 2017, he has been a visiting scholar at Fudan Univ. Shanghai. He has traveled extensively throughout Taiwan, China, and Asia.