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Assessing political agency across the Taiwan Strait: The case of the taishang
China Information,Vol 27, Issue 1, 2013.
Abstract (English) :
The migration of Taiwanese to the Chinese mainland is one of the most striking features of the deepening interaction and integration across the Taiwan Strait. Among these newcomers, Taiwanese businesspeople (taishang) have long since been considered an important ‘linkage community’ that profoundly affects the dynamics of cross-Strait relations. However, to what extent can and do they exert political agency in cross-Strait relations? Drawing on recent literature, as well as fieldwork conducted between 2006 and 2009 in Taiwan, the Pearl River Delta (Dongguan), and the Kunshan–Shanghai metropolitan area, this article begins by analysing the political mindset of the taishang, most notably with respect to their understanding of themselves as political actors. It then looks at different dimensions of political agency exercised by the taishang in both China and Taiwan. Since little is known about their strategies to politically safeguard their group-specific interests, the findings and assessments presented here can only be preliminary. Nevertheless, the article contributes to a better understanding of the concept of linkage community and provides a useful foundation for further investigations of the taishang’s political role in shaping cross-Strait relations.
cross-Strait migration, cross-Strait relations, identity, mainland taishang, political agency
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