In This Review

Political Change in China: Comparisons With Taiwan
Political Change in China: Comparisons With Taiwan
By Bruce Gilley and Larry Diamond, eds.
Lynne Rienner, 2008, 309 pp

The contributors to this conference volume ask not whether China will democratize but how: by following the path of peaceful transition exemplified by Taiwan or in a way that involves more turbulence? The experts, a star cast, compare the two systems culturally, sociologically, and politically -- and end up disagreeing. The co-editor Diamond and a majority of the contributors hold that Taiwan's social structure, political history, and geopolitical position are too distinctive to make its past a good guide to China's future. The other co-editor, Gilley, and several other contributors argue that China has a strong state facing strong social forces, a circumstance favorable to peaceful top-down democratization along the same lines as Taiwan's democratization at some point in the future (the timetable is uncertain). Whoever is right, the book offers an informative look at Taiwan's past and China's present, with an illuminating application of social science theories.