Statement of Purpose
I am dedicated to academic research and have long aspired to be a scholar in the field of comparative politics. I hope to conduct advanced studies in the PhD program with a focus on the issues of democratization and inequality in East Asia.
I was first inspired to study the issues of development and inequality when I co-found the social group “Youth Hoya” which is concerned about the poverty issues and rights of young people in Taiwan. I myself conducted a study, “Special Survey on Student’s Loan”, with a survey sample size of more than four hundred college students, in order to persuade Ministry of Education to carry out certain reforms on higher education. These unique experiences prompt me to learn more and to find out the true picture for development and inequality.
I graduated with honor from the Department of Diplomacy at National Chengchi University (NCCU) in 2009 and became a graduate student in political science at National Taiwan University (NTU) in the next year. I started to study Chinese politics and issues about democratization when I took a seminar course on Chinese Elite Politics in my third year at NCCU. The paper I wrote for this seminar course was presented at the Annual Conference of Chinese Association of Political Science in October 2008 in Chiayi, Taiwan. This paper was later amended and published in the Chinese Political Science Review in June 2009. This experience inspired me to conduct a comparative study of the relationship between elite recruitment and economic development inTaiwan. I wrote a paper on this topic and concluded that the political mobility of economic technocrats in both China and Taiwan can be related to characteristics of the regime types in question. While inTaiwan developmentalism has led to a high level of elite professionalism, in the context of the post-totalitarian China the emphasis on political credentials is no less important than professionalism despite the national devotion to economic development.
With my long interest and participation in the studies of cross-Strait relations, I was elected as one of the five delegates from Taiwan to attend the “Strait Talk Symposium 2011” at the University of California, Berkeley. At the symposium, we conducted in-depth discussion of conflict resolution mechanisms and exchanged views about the evolving cross-Strait relations. Afterwards, I conducted a survey on the attitude of China’s mass media towardsTaiwan. In my report (which is included as the writing sample in my application), I show that the attitudes of Chinese mass media on Taiwan-related issues has significantly changed in recent years. There has been a gradual decrease on the theme of unification. Instead, positive tones are now frequently adopted in the reportage of Taiwanese affairs.
In addition to studies of Chinese politics, I became interested in quantitative research approaches in my senior year and carried out several surveys on the Taiwanese people’s attitudes towards democratization results. I attended the Summer Camp for Quantitative Methodology held by the Instituteof Political Science, Academia Sinica. I also received training from the Statistics Center of NTU to become a teaching assistant for the applied statistics course. In addition, I have worked as a research assistant in the Center for China Studies at NTU since April 2011. My interests in political studies and methodological issues are also stimulated by my experiences as the Chief Editor of Department’s Magazine at the Department of Diplomacy at NCCU from 2007 to 2009, and as the Executive Editor of Political Science Quarterly Book Review.
My previous academic work has equipped me with knowledge of and skills in comparative politics research, and I am determined to pursue advanced research in this field. With its distinguished reputation, I believe that studying political science at your program will help me to acquire strong ability in both quantitative and qualitative research, which will be essential to my goal to further explore and understand political and economic developments in East Asia.
The major concerns of my future studies are as follows: Why and how does democratic and economic liberalization result in increasing inequality? How might we find ways to initiate changes that might change this trend? How do different national political contexts and policy frameworks affect the outcomes of economic development? Nowadays the trend of globalization and liberalization might lead to economic growth but widening the gaps between different social groups. For example, while China has become one of the most influential economies in the world, the emerging social inequality is rapidly becoming the main cleavage which has attracted the attention of the central government. In Taiwan, despite allegedly being the exemplar of “growth with equity” in earlier decades, the specter of inequality has emerged as one of the main social and political issues. It is my goal to probe into these issues in the context of East Asia’s political and economic developments.
Many scholars in development studies point at economic factors as the main factor behind unequal development. However, Pierson and Hacker stress that politics may play an even greater role. Arguing that America has become a “winner-take-all” society, they specify the causal links between political process and the widening of economic inequality. As for East Asia, I would like to examine whether dissimilar political and economic institutions will make a difference. By comparing different stages of economic development in China and the so-called “four tigers” (Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan), I wish to examine in detail the causes of inequality in these societies. I also aim to compare the different ways in which these issues are addressed, for example by social protests, political discourses and fiscal interventions. I plan to use formal models to illustrate factors that are possibly leading to inequality, such as regime type, political organization, rules of policy-making, public policy, and social capital. With the departmental strength in the studies of regime types and time horizon data, I will be able to conduct research into theories of political economy inEast Asia and explore for models of optimal growth with equity.
It is my conviction that political science needs to be related to real-world issues and be able to make contributions to society. I believe that the rigorous training that I will receive in your program will be indispensable for the fulfillment of my future goals.
 Paul Pierson and Jacob S. Hacker, 2010. Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc.