chapter  1
WithDaniel K. Berman
Pages 15

Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future. Boasting the world’s largest foreign exchange reserves—as well as the world’s highest savings-to-income ratio—government spokesmen were announcing that Taiwan would soon enter the ranks of the world’s fully industrialized nations. The ability of Taiwan to break free of the confines of its cultural prison is significant not only for the People’s Republic of China or students of East Asian politics, for whom the concept of oriental despotism long seemed to dictate parameters for development. A corollary of the incorporation of all historical and political writing into those activities directed by the regime was a very harsh set of punishments for those whose criticism was considered too frank or effective. The futility and absurdity of efforts to deny the values inherent in certain pursuits is illustrated by the post-Tiananmen campaign against smiling in public, said to be a vestige of bourgeois liberalization.