November 7, 2011 — Taiwan's president, Ma Ying-jeou, took time away from his heated re-election campaign Thursday to meet with a delegation from the University of Virginia visiting the Academia Sinica, Taiwan's counterpart to the National Academy of Science.
The delegation was there to formalize a cooperative agreement between the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics in U.Va.'s College of Arts & Sciences and Academia Sinica's Institute of Political Science.
Ma answered questions from U.Va. scholars regarding Taiwan's politics and relations with mainland China and with the U.S. Afterward, by Philip Yang, a 1996 Ph.D. graduate of the politics department who is now minister of Taiwan's Government Information Office, hosted a U.Va. alumni.
The agreement was signed by institute director Wu Yu-Shan and Yoke San Reynolds, U.Va.'s vice president and chief financial officer. Complementing the signing was a jointly organized conference on "The Chinese Models of Development: Domestic and Global Aspects," held Friday and Saturday at the Academia Sinica's Institute of Political Science.
The conference and agreement represent "a solid step toward cooperation between the two institutions, and between the academic communities of the U.S. and Taiwan," Wu said.
The conference was co-organized by U.Va.'s Brantly Womack, Cumming Professor of Foreign Affairs, and Leng Tse-Kang, a 1995 Ph.D. graduate of the U.Va. politics department who is now a professor of political science at National Chengchi University in Taiwan.
U.Va.'s delegation of 10 administrators and faculty, including seven professors of politics, were joined at the conference by more than 40 scholars from 10 universities in six countries, several of whom once studied at U.Va., illustrating "how the flow of students who come to U.Va. from abroad serves to promote the internationalization of the University's research agenda," Reynolds said.
Meredith Jung-En Woo, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, was unable to join the U.Va. delegation, but applauded the conference. "Taiwan was an important case throughout the post-war period that exemplified how rapid economic growth could occur," said Woo, an expert on international political economy and East Asian politics. "Often overlooked is how it's also a great example of democratization. Today, Taiwan has a vibrant and feisty democratic culture. This conference should produce fine scholarship that reassesses both the political and economic legacy of the 'Taiwan model.'"
Harry Harding, a China expert and dean of U.Va.'s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, delivered the conference's keynote address.
This was only the second conference that Academia Sinica's Institute of Political Science has held in conjunction with an American university; the first was with University of California, Berkeley.