China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
The legal system in Taiwan is undergoing a transformation. Over a hundred years since the founding of the Republic of China and over thirty years since the end of martial law on Taiwan, a new legal identity is being forged. Public criticism of “dinosaur” judges and esoteric debates among law-trained elites have galvanized efforts to create a more inclusive discussion surrounding legal reforms. Taiwan is facing the challenge of moving from dinosaurs to dynamism.
The trajectory of legal reforms is largely a domestic matter, yet it is tied to considerations that extend beyond Taiwan’s borders. Reshaping Taiwan’s legal identity is a double-edged sword that has the potential to boost Taiwan’s international standing but also to further chafe cross-strait tensions. The current PRC leadership has stressed safeguarding territorial integrity as a core national interest for which there is a “red line” that cannot be crossed. Thus, while there is much to applaud in the open debate concerning the future of Taiwan’s legal system, cultivating a distinctive identity also threatens to raise the PRC government’s ire if construed as part of what is pejoratively described by Beijing as President Tsai’s de-sinicization political agenda.
A question to watch is whether the shadow of Beijing might serve as a damper on legal innovation in Taiwan, a point of contrast that emboldens Taiwan to celebrate its distinct system, or perhaps some combination thereof.