© 2005

Lee Teng-hui and Taiwan’s Quest for Identity

  • Authors

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xviii
  2. Shih-shan Henry Tsai
    Pages 1-25
  3. Shih-shan Henry Tsai
    Pages 27-45
  4. Shih-shan Henry Tsai
    Pages 69-90
  5. Shih-shan Henry Tsai
    Pages 111-135
  6. Shih-shan Henry Tsai
    Pages 137-161
  7. Shih-shan Henry Tsai
    Pages 163-192
  8. Shih-shan Henry Tsai
    Pages 193-215
  9. Shih-shan Henry Tsai
    Pages 217-224
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 225-271

About this book


The book is an account of Taiwan's evolving national consciousness told through the biography of its former President Lee Teng-hui - the central figure in the island's political transformation over the past two decades. In describing the broader historical and social context of the various stages of Lee's life, the book also analyzes Taiwan's own evolution during the past century as a Japanese colony, a Leninist party-state dictatorship, and then an American-inspired fledgling democracy. The book explores such questions as: Is Lee Teng-hui an opportunistic recidivist who is interested only in his own self-preservation, or is he a hero who not only propelled Taiwan into a new era, but also constructed a new national identity for the islanders? Are the multi-ethnic islanders culturally 'Chinese' or are they 'Taiwanese'? Is Taiwan historically and politically part of 'China' or does it have its own history and identity, and deserves international recognition as an independent sovereign country?


China democracy dictatorship Japan Lenin national identity transformation

About the authors

HENRY TSAI is Professor of history and Director of Asian studies at the University of Arkansas, USA. He is author of four books on Chinese history, all published by university presses.

Bibliographic information


"Lee's story is fascinating and his historical importance is undeniable. In a highly readable and well-researched account, Tsai provides a rich description of Lee's cultural, political and historical milieu. Because Lee's journey is also the story of modern Taiwan, this is a political biography that chronicles a nation's recent history and gives great insight into today's Taiwan politics and the present difficulties of Taiwan-China relations." - Denny Roy, author of Taiwan: A Political History (Cornell University Press, 2003)

"Tsai's fascinating, richly detailed biography imbeds Taiwan's Lee Teng-hui in an eighty-year transition from Japanese colonial rule until Lee's election as president of China's first democracy in 1996. Tsai portrays this creative, energetic leader as brilliantly compartmentalizing his beliefs and sentiments, yet always the hands-on leader who never spins out of control as he adapts from one set of circumstances to another, relentlessly changing Taiwan's political life beyond all previous recognition." - Ramon H. Myers, Senior Fellow Emeritus, Consultant, Hoover Institution on War, Revolution & Peace, Modern China Archive and Special Materials