Chun-ya LIU defended her thesis on Wednesday, September 2, 2020, at the Centre Sorbonne.
Chun-ya LIU have submited a thesis in geography/planning entitled: “Political regimes, economic development and urban growth in Taiwan”.
The defense took place on Wednesday, September 2 at 2:00 pm, at the Sorbonne Center (Salle Duroselle, Galerie J.B. Dumas 14 rue Cujas, 75005 Paris).

The jury of the thesis is composed of the following members:

  • Mrs. Natacha AVELINE-DUBACH, Director of the thesis, Director of research CNRS, Géographie-cités
  • Mr. Gilles GUIHEUX, Rapporteur, Professor, University of Paris
  • Mrs. Nadin HEÉ, Rapporteur, Junior Professor, Free University of Berlin
  • Mrs. Nathalie LANCRET, Examiner, Director of Research CNRS, AUSSER
  • His Excellency Chih-chung WU, Examiner, Ambassador of Taiwan in France; Professor, Soochow University (Taiwan)

This thesis provides a macro-regional reading of the urbanization process in Taiwan since its origins, over a period of four centuries. The characteristics of city growth are captured in relation to the development strategies of the various regimes on the island. The method intersects a historical approach, based on the controversial writings of the great Taiwanese narrative, with geographic information techniques (QGIS software) to spatialize historical processes.
During these four centuries, the Taiwanese territory has been essentially dominated by exogenous or colonial powers, while at the same time being the support of intense ethnic mixing, notably by the influx of migrants from the Chinese mainland. Taiwan’s economic and urban development has thus found itself at the interface of Western and Eastern spatial strategies of domination. The Western powers developed port cities as part of a colonial strategy embedded in world trade (Dutch and Spanish colonial trading posts), while the Eastern countries pursued a more continental strategy, either by seeking to isolate Taiwan on the borders of a trans-strait Chinese world (domination of the Qing), or by developing urban networks at a distance from the coasts (Japanese colonial strategy, pursued by the KMT and maintained to the present day).

As a result of this conflicting history, the country’s capital, Taipei, experienced a less pronounced process of urban primacy than its East Asian counterparts. This betrays a more balanced urban growth, concentrated however in the western part of the island, along a north-south continental transport axis linking two major port hubs. Taiwan’s very rugged topography and its proximity to China has also contributed to the western development of the urban network. With the exception of the Qing (Manchu), all exogenous powers in Taiwan have relied on the Han ethnic group – according to various strategies in the face of its complex forms – relegating a large part of the aborigines to the mountainous areas of the East and reducing their rich linguistic and cultural diversity.
While Taiwan’s ethnic diversity has been asserted since the advent of a democratic regime, the current urban network retains the legacy of the spatial arrangement of the Japanese colonial space system, while retreating to the northwest of the island because of the deindustrialization of the southern port of Kaohsiung. This situation leads us to reexamine the application of the concept of the “developmental state” (Johnson, 1982) to the Taiwanese case. The thesis shows that Taiwan met the criteria of a developmental state productivist strategy during the authoritarian period of the KMT, but that this is no longer the case in the democratic era due to the weakening of the economic pilot agency and the relocation of a large part of the Taiwanese industrial apparatus to China.

Taiwan – Japanese colonization – KMT – China – Historical GIS – Developmental state