- ISBN/SKU: 9781591144274
- Binding: Hardcover
- Era: 21st Century Asia
- Number of Pages: 240
- Subject: Biography
- Date Available: October 2007
A well-known observer of Taiwan and Asian history and culture provides an insightful biography of Lee Teng Hui, the pro-democracy statesman and former president of the Republic of China. As head of the Taiwanese government from 1988 to 2000, Lee managed, without violence or major civil unrest, to reform the authoritarian state into a constitutional democracy with a multi-party political system. This examination of Lee's success puts to rest the idea that Asian values support only authoritarian regimes and reject human rights and political democracy in favor of economic success and military power.
Richard C. Kagan describes in rich detail Lee's struggle to reinvent Taiwan's culture and political system by advocating an independent sovereign nation with universal values of human rights, democracy, freedom, and economic justice. His book offers new insights into the role Lee played in the still volatile Taiwan Strait crisis and how Lee's diplomatic skills used the crisis to break free of the "One China" straitjacket of the Shanghai Communiqué of 1972 while avoiding open warfare with the People's Republic of China. The author argues that Taiwan is a vital part of America's national security interests in Asia and that the loss of Taiwan to Mainland China would seriously damage American economic and military power in Asia. He calls Lee's life a beacon for people looking for new ways to promote democracy and sovereignty and intends this biography of Lee's life to highlight the statesman's significant contributions, until now little known or misunderstood in the United States and Europe.
Richard C. Kagan, professor emeritus at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, is the author of a biography of Chen Shui-bian, the current president of Taiwan, and has edited and contributed to many books and journal articles.
PRAISE FOR TAIWAN'S STATESMAN
“An important contribution to the study of Taiwan’s political development over the past 25 years. Kagan’s contribution remains a positive and valuable one to the history of Taiwan’s march toward democracy.”
— Strategic Studies Quarterly, Winter 2011
"Professor Kagan has re-conceptualized Taiwan's history in this cultural and intellectual study of Lee Teng-hui's life. His study provides the spiritual and philosophical context for Lee's democratic reforms. Kagan's perceptive analysis of Lee explains why the former president attempted to invent a new Taiwan identity. Drawing upon Lee's seminal education in Japan, his acceptance of Christianity, and his baptism in student movements at Cornell University, Kagan provides an original approach to Lee's achievements and personal reformulations. In addition, he has produced new information on Lee's life, and on the history of Taiwan. His work is aware of the common arguments about Taiwan's identity and history, but he steps outside of them to create a new and valuable way to discuss Taiwan's past, present, and future. Professor Kagan's book would be a valuable addition to the understanding of Taiwan's democratization."