Brooklyn Journal of International Law

First Page



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. This Article argues that transparency, clarity, and participation both are animating principles of the current reform debate and are beginning to emerge as characteristics of Taiwan’s inchoate legal identity. Embedding these values into Taiwan’s legal identity could, in turn, help foster a shared sense of identity among the populace regarding what it means to be Taiwanese. The trajectory of legal reforms is largely a domestic matter, yet it is tied to considerations that extend beyond Taiwan’s borders. This Article posits that reshaping Taiwan’s legal identity has the potential both to boost Taiwan’s international standing and to further chafe cross-strait tensions. 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.