Dr Tao Wang wins Taiwan Studies Award


The European Association of Taiwan Studies (EATS) has awarded Manchester China Institute (MCI) research fellow Dr Tao Wang, a former PhD student at the Department of Politics, the 2023 Taiwan Studies Young Scholar Award (1st Prize).

The winning paper, “Weddings, Funerals, and Banquets: How Guanxi Serves Democracy,” explores how the informal institutions of guanxi affect political representation in Taiwan’s democracy today. Drawing on evidence from both in-depth interviews and observation, Tao argues that the unwritten rules of displaying connections with Very Important People (VIPs) lead Taiwanese national lawmakers to expend enormous effort on constituency activities in their districts. This research helps us better understand the resilience of Taiwan’s young democracy.

The winning paper was first evaluated through a double-blind external review process, and was further assessed during an oral presentation at the 20th annual EATS conference hosted by the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London on 26-28 June 2023. The European Association of Taiwan Studies (EATS) promotes Taiwan studies in Europe.

“I was thrilled to hear the good news that Tao was awarded this year’s Young Scholar Award for Taiwan Studies in Europe. It is well deserved. Tao is not just one of the leading young scholars of Taiwan and cross-Strait relations today, but has also been pivotal in creating a community of young China scholars at Manchester.” - MCI Director Peter Gries

Tao Wang is a Hallsworth Research Fellow in Chinese Political Economy at The University of Manchester. He earned a PhD in Politics from the University in September 2021. His research lies at the intersection of informal institutions, political representation, and public opinion, with a regional focus on East Asia. Currently Tao is developing a book manuscript on constituency service in Taiwan, examining the ramifications of informal rules such as guanxi.