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Shelley Rigger on Taiwan's Role in China's Economic Rise
How did the once-secretive, isolated People’s Republic of China become the factory to the world? Shelley Rigger argues the answer is Taiwan. In The Tiger Leading the Dragon, she follows the evolution of Taiwan’s influence from the period when Deng Xiaoping lifted Mao’s prohibitions on business in the late 1970s, allowing investors from Taiwan to collaborate with local officials in the PRC to transform mainland China into a manufacturing powerhouse. After World War II, Taiwan’s fleet-footed export-oriented manufacturing firms became essential links in global supply chains. In the late 1980s, Taiwanese firms seized the opportunity to lower production costs by moving to the PRC, which was seeking foreign investment to fuel its industrial rise. Within a few years, Taiwan’s traditional manufacturing had largely relocated to the PRC, opening space for a wave of new business creation in information technology. The Tiger Leading the Dragon traces the development of the cross-Taiwan Strait economic relationship and explores how Taiwanese firms and individuals transformed Chinese business practices. Rigger’s book also reveals Taiwanese contributions to Chinese consumer behavior, philanthropy, religion, popular culture, and law.
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Shelley Rigger is Brown Professor of political science at Davidson College. She frequently writes for think tanks (e.g., Brookings Institution) and speaks to Congressional panels (e.g., Dec. 2020) and military workshops. Her books include Why Taiwan Matters: Small Island, Global Powerhouse (which she shared at USC) on Taiwan’s place in the world and two volumes on Taiwan's domestic politics, Politics in Taiwan: Voting for Democracy and From Opposition to Power: Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party. Prof. Rigger was based in Taiwan as a Fulbright Senior Scholar in 2019-2020. She joined our 2020 election roundtable.
A food safety factory shutdown has Americans hunting for baby formula. Readying themselves for a covid-19 lockdown, Chinese in Beijing emptied store shelves. Emerging from lockdown, some in Shanghai are visiting well-provisioned markets. U.S.-China agricultural trade is booming, but many are still being left hungry. Food security, sustainability and safety remain issues.