Sunday, October 04, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Su Chi’s ‘Taiwan’s Relations with Mainland China’

Su Chi, sometime government official, sometime academic, shows his political colors in his treatise on cross-strait ties under Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian

The problem with academics who are also politicians is that they tend to say one thing when in office, and something quite different when they’re in academia. This certainly applies to National Security Council (NSC) Secretary-General Su Chi (蘇起), who is both an academic and has a long history of involvement in government under former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and in the Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration, and served as a legislator for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) for a good part of Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) presidency. Su the political animal has a weakness for hyperbole, such as when, in October 2007, he claimed that Taiwan was developing nuclear weapons, which was false.

A consequence of this is that Su the academic must be approached with caution. That being said, this does not mean Taiwan’s Relations with Mainland China: A Tail Wagging Two Dogs is a bad book. In fact, it’s a fairly good book — at least when Su manages to restrain his political Mr Hyde.

Su’s book covers the period from 1988 through 2004, which includes tentative efforts to open diplomatic talks across the Taiwan Strait all the way to the end of Chen’s first term as president.

My review of Su’s book, published today in the Taipei Times, is available in HTML and PDF.

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