SOAS University of London

Centre of Taiwan Studies

How Does Guanxi Shape Democracy? Evidence from Taiwan

Speaker: Wang Tao

Date: 16 November 2021Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 16 November 2021Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Room: TBC

Type of Event: Talk


Political scientists have produced a voluminous amount of literature on the subject of guanxi, the Chinese term for particularistic ties. Much of the work has focused on its role in encouraging favouritism in an authoritarian context, including political appointments, rent seeking, and buying and selling official positions. But how does guanxi influence democracy?

This study explores the way that guanxi affects political representation in Taiwan’s democracy. Drawing on evidence from both in-depth interviews and a survey experiment, I argue that guanxi perception shapes what voters want from their MPs. Viewing Taiwan as a guanxi-based society motivated voters to favour a lawmaker stressing constituency service, namely, tackling personal issues on behalf of individual voters. The study sheds some light on the impact of political culture on democratic consolidation as well as the future of democratisation in East Asia.

Speaker's Bio
Wang Tao

Wang Tao (PhD, University of Manchester, 2021) is Research Associate at the Manchester China Institute. His research interests lie in the fields of political culture, democratisation, and nationalism, with a focus on East Asia. Tao’s ongoing work centres on (1) the effects of particularistic ties (or guanxi) on constituency service in Taiwan, and (2) the political psychology of cross-strait relations. His research was recently published in Foreign Affairs, Journal of Contemporary China, and World Affairs.

Organiser: Centre of Taiwan Studies

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