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Semantics will be key in historic meeting between China and Taiwan presidents, East Asian expert says

Thursday, November 05, 2015

LAWRENCE – A University of Kansas professor who has done extensive research on Chinese and Taiwanese relations is available to talk to media about Saturday’s meeting between China's President Xi Jinping and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou. The meeting, which will be held in Singapore, will be the first time the leaders of the two states have met since the end of a civil war in 1949.

Megan Greene, director of KU’s Center for East Asian Studies and an associate professor of history, specializes in the history of the Republic of China under the political party Kuomintang (KMT) both in China and Taiwan.

As author of the 2008 book “The Origins of the Developmental State in Taiwan: Science Policy and the Quest for Modernization,” Greene examined the evolution of the Republic of China’s industrial science policy from the 1940s through the 1980s. In that book and elsewhere, she has argued that the People’s Republic of China modeled its developmental and science policies of the early 20th century off of Taiwan. She is currently working on a project that focuses on the scientific and technical modernization that occurred in inland China during the Sino-Japanese War. Greene also has researched the identity politics in Taiwan over the past several decades, looking particularly at how various governments in Taiwan have used history education as a vehicle for constructing national identity. She teaches classes on the history of modern China, including a course on Contemporary Greater China that looks comparatively at the PRC, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Semantics will play an important role in the historic meeting, Greene said, as China continues to view Taiwan as a province, not an independent country. Meanwhile, Ma’s policies have been geared toward building a friendlier relationship with China. However, he has not gone so far as to support an agreement similar to the one Hong Kong has with China.

 “The concern for independence advocates in Taiwan will always be whether this meeting will erode their claims to sovereignty. Obviously President Ma doesn’t have that concern, but not everyone agrees with him,” Greene said.

To schedule an interview with Greene, contact Christine Metz Howard at 785-864-8852 or cmetzhoward@ku.edu


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