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How East Asians View Democracy

Edited by Yun-han Chu, Larry Diamond, Andrew J. Nathan, and Doh Chull Shin

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Paper, 328 pages, 33 illus., 58 tables
ISBN: 978-0-231-14535-0
$30.00 / £20.50

September, 2008
Cloth, 328 pages, 33 illus., 58 tables
ISBN: 978-0-231-14534-3
$90.00 / £62.00

East Asian democracies are in trouble, their legitimacy threatened by poor policy performance and undermined by nostalgia for the progrowth, soft-authoritarian regimes of the past. Yet citizens throughout the region value freedom, reject authoritarian alternatives, and believe in democracy.

This book is the first to report the results of a large-scale survey-research project, the East Asian Barometer, in which eight research teams conducted national-sample surveys in five new democracies (Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, and Mongolia), one established democracy (Japan), and two nondemocracies (China and Hong Kong) in order to assess the prospects for democratic consolidation. The findings present a definitive account of the way in which East Asians understand their governments and their roles as citizens. Contributors use their expert local knowledge to analyze responses from a set of core questions, revealing both common patterns and national characteristics in citizens' views of democracy. They explore sources of divergence and convergence in attitudes within and across nations.

The findings are sobering. Japanese citizens are disillusioned. The region's new democracies have yet to prove themselves, and citizens in authoritarian China assess their regime's democratic performance relatively favorably. The contributors to this volume contradict the claim that democratic governance is incompatible with East Asian cultures but counsel against complacency toward the fate of democracy in the region. While many forces affect democratic consolidation, popular attitudes are a crucial factor. This book shows how and why skepticism and frustration are the ruling sentiments among today's East Asians.

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About the Author

Yun-han Chu is distinguished research fellow at the Institute of Political Science of Academia Sinica and professor of political science at National Taiwan University. The coordinator of the East Asian Barometer Survey, Chu is an associate editor of the Journal of East Asian Studies, and his recent publications include Crafting Democracy in Taiwan, China Under Jiang Zemin, and The New Chinese Leadership: Challenges and Opportunities After the Sixteenth Party Congress.

Larry Diamond is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the founding coeditor of the Journal of Democracy. A member of USAID's Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid, Diamond has also advised and lectured to the World Bank, the United Nations, the State Department, and other governmental and nongovernmental agencies dealing with governance and development. He is the author of Squandered Victory: The American Occupation and the Bungled Effort to Bring Democracy to Iraq and Developing Democracy: Toward Consolidation.

Andrew J. Nathan is the Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science at Columbia University. He is cochair of the board, Human Rights in China, a member of the board of Freedom House, and a member of the Advisory Committee of Human Rights Watch, Asia. Nathan's authored and coedited books include China's Transition; The Tiananmen Papers; Negotiating Culture and Human Rights: Beyond Universalism and Relativism; China's New Rulers: The Secret Files; Constructing Human Rights in the Age of Globalization; and Chinese Democracy.

Doh Chull Shin holds the endowed chair in comparative politics and Korean studies at the Department of Political Science, University of Missouri. For more than ten years, Shin has directed the Korean Democracy Barometer surveys. He has also systematically monitored the cultural and institutional dynamics of democratization in Korea. Shin's latest book, Mass Politics and Culture in Democratizing Korea, has been called one of the most significant works on Asian democracies and the third wave of democratization.

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