Taiwan’s Vibrant Democracy and Its Impact on Asia and the U.S.

The reflex of the policy community is to focus on cross-Strait relations and the Taiwan issue through the lens of U.S.-China relations. But Taiwan is not merely a security dilemma: it is a vibrant democracy of 23 million people with an outsized economic and political impact in the region. To understand Taiwan’s objectives and how they impact other countries, including the U.S.’s policy towards Taiwan, the policy community must examine Taiwan’s social changes and progress since its democratic transition in 1987. The development of Taiwan’s multi-party democracy and the philosophical convictions and aspirations of the Taiwanese people, especially the youth, are factors as important as security challenges in building a comprehensive assessment of Taiwan’s role in the international community. From the influence of Taiwan’s democratic and economic development in the region, the policy community can also see the direct and indirect impact of Taiwan’s system on the democratization of other countries, especially those included in the New Southbound Policy.

Joining us for a panel discussion on Taiwan’s impact in Asia and on U.S. policy are Ambassador Derek Mitchell, President of the National Democratic Institute; Harry Harding, Professor of Public Policy at the University of Virginia; and Shirley Lin, Adjunct Professor of Political Economic at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Speaking from their decades of experience working on Taiwan and the region as well as recent trips and teaching tenures in Taiwan, these three experts will share their observations on the influence of Taiwan’s democracy on the region, the connection between democracy and security, and the impact of Taiwan’s social changes on its democratic processes.

WHAT: A panel discussion on Taiwan’s democratic development, social changes, and impact on the region and the U.S. The event is on-the-record and will be livestreamed. Lunch will be served.

WHERE: The Stimson Center, 1211 Connecticut Avenue, NW, 8th Floor, Washington DC, 20036

WHEN: Monday, October 15, 2018, 12:15-2:00 PM

FOLLOW: @StimsonCenter on Twitter for event news and use #StimsonNow to join the conversation.


DEREK MITCHELL, President, National Democratic Institute

Ambassador Derek Mitchell returned to NDI as president in September 2018, just over two decades after serving for nearly four years as an NDI senior program officer in the 1990s. In the interim, Ambassador Mitchell has had a distinguished career in and out of the U.S. government. From 2012 to 2016, he served as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (Burma). From 2011 to 2012, he served as the U.S. Department of State’s first Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma, with the rank of ambassador. Prior to this appointment, Ambassador Mitchell served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Asian and Pacific Security Affairs (APSA), in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (2009-2011); as Senior Fellow and Director of the Asia Division of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (2001-2009); and as Special Assistant for Asian and Pacific Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (1997-2001). Ambassador Mitchell began his work in Washington as a foreign policy assistant in the office of Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) from 1986 to 1988. Ambassador Mitchell has authored numerous books, articles, policy reports, and opinion pieces on international affairs.

HARRY HARDING, Ph.D., University Professor and Professor of Public Policy, University of Virginia;  Distinguished Adjunct Professor, International Doctoral Program in Asia-Pacific Studies, National Cheng Chi University, Taipei, Taiwan

Dr. Harry Harding was appointed a University Professor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of Virginia in 2014. From 2009 to 2014, he served as the founding dean of the university’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. Before coming to Virginia, he was a member of the faculties of Swarthmore College and Stanford University, a Senior Fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies Program at the Brookings Institution, Dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, Director of Research and Analysis at Eurasia Group, and University Professor of International Affairs at George Washington University, and held visiting professorships at Georgetown University, the University of Washington, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and the University of Hong Kong. Dr. Harding presently serves as a member of the Board of Governors of the Rajaratnam School of International Studies (Singapore), and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. A specialist on Asia and American relations with Asia, Dr. Harding is the author of numerous books, including The India-China Relationship: What the United States Needs to Know (co-edited with Francine Frankel, 2004) and A Fragile Relationship: The United States and China Since 1972 (1992).

SHIRLEY LIN, Ph.D., Adjunct Professor of Political Economy at the Chinese University of Hong Kong; Lecturer in Political Science at the University of Virginia.

Dr. Syaru Shirley Lin is a member of the founding faculty of the MSSc program in global political economy at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and teaches in the Department of Politics at the University of Virginia. Dr. Lin was a partner at Goldman Sachs, where she led the firm’s efforts in private equity and venture capital in Asia, managing investments in twelve countries. Previously, she specialized in the privatization of state-owned enterprises in mainland China, Singapore, and Taiwan. Dr. Lin’s present board service includes Goldman Sachs Asia Bank, Langham Hospitality Investments, Mercuries Life Insurance. Appointed by the Hong Kong government, she is a member of the Hong Kong Committee for Pacific Economic Cooperation. She also advises Crestview Partners, a private equity fund based in New York, and the Focused Ultrasound Foundation. She is the author of Taiwan’s China Dilemma: Contested Identities and Multiple Interests in Taiwan’s Cross-Strait Economic Policy (Stanford University, 2016). Dr. Lin received her B.A. from Harvard College, and her M.A. in international public affairs and Ph.D. in politics and public administration from the University of Hong Kong. Her current research project is focused on the challenges facing countries in the high income trap in East Asia.

YUN SUN, Co-Director, East Asia Program; Director of the China Program, Stimson Center (Moderator)

Yun Sun is Co-Director of the East Asia Program and Director of the China Program at the Stimson Center. Her expertise is in Chinese foreign policy, U.S.-China relations and China’s relations with neighboring countries and authoritarian regimes. From 2011 to early 2014, she was a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution, jointly appointed by the Foreign Policy Program and the Global Development Program, where she focused on Chinese national security decision-making processes and China-Africa relations. From 2008 to 2011, Yun was the China Analyst for the International Crisis Group based in Beijing, specializing on China’s foreign policy towards conflict countries and the developing world. Prior to ICG, she worked on U.S.-Asia relations in Washington, D.C. for five years. Yun earned her master’s degree in international policy and practice from George Washington University, as well as an M.A. in Asia Pacific studies and a B.A. in international relations from Foreign Affairs College in Beijing.

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