Rejuvenating the Developmental State in Taiwan: the Impacts of the EIA as an Environmental Governance (2006-2011)

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Chen, Ying-Feng
Kastner, Scott
Asian Tigers were sometimes referred to "developmental states" for they were capable of designing successful development agendas and implementing these plans with the compliance of private capital instead of simply regulating the market. However, with the fast democratic transition during the 1990s, the developmental state encountered serious challenges from business sectors, opposition parties and civil groups. Some literature suggested that this infiltration of private sector jeopardized the state's autonomy in formulating long-term plans. The chaotic policy process at the early stage of democratic transition revealed Taiwan state's capability in controlling developmental agendas has been weakened. If the developmental state of Taiwan ceased to function, in what way did it evolve? This dissertation aimed to answer this question by examining the role of the Taiwan state in promoting three major investments, the Formosa Steel-making Plant, the Central Taiwan Science Park in Holi-Chixing and Erlin, and the Eighth Petrochemical Plant, from 2006 to 2010. While developmental states were often argued incompatible with democratic regimes, this dissertation demonstrated that the status of Taiwan's developmental state remained firm after democratic transition given that the state was still autonomous in terms of defining and preserving national interests. Furthermore, it WAS the public participation and environmental institutional monitoring brought by democratic transition that reinforced the developmental state in Taiwan by correcting the state's errors in promoting those inefficient projects. Through the interdependent governance in the review mechanisms, these industrial programs based on outdated development agendas were smoothly postponed. Some programs were even called off by the corporations themselves. The democratic transition did not lessen politicians' pursuit of constant national economic development; moreover, it brought in correcting mechanisms and thus further reinforced the capacity of the developmental state in choosing developmental agendas.