State and Society In The Taiwan Miracle by Thomas Gold is a really fascinating book. It is older, published in 1986, and tries to explain the “Taiwan Miracle”, or Taiwan’s rapid economic development in the 60s and 70s. I was consistently struck by the similarities between Gold’s observations about Taiwan in 1986 and the views of China today.
While Gold shows the seeds of the miracle were planted in Taiwan’s history, I think he mainly attributes the economic success to what happened since world war two. Taiwan consciously embraced globalization at the bottom rung of manufacturing. In the 60s Taiwan was known the world over for its clothing exports, but as time went on its economy developed and labor costs increased. Taiwan began moving further up the supply chain into such things as electronics. This parallels China to a unnerving degree.
The book ends with a discussion of “current” events in Taiwan, such as as the rise of the political opposition party and the challenges facing Taiwan. This part was quite interesting from our modern view, as we can see how Taiwan developed and solved the challenges it faced. Having this view gives me optimism for the current world situation. I recommend this relatively short book as an interesting view from yesteryear and a good view of a forgotten situation.