Sinica Podcast

A weekly discussion of current affairs in China with journalists, writers, academics, policy makers, business people and anyone with something compelling to say about the country that's reshaping the world. A SupChina production, hosted by Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn.


How Taiwan propelled China’s economic rise, with Shelley Rigger

This week on Sinica, Kaiser chats with Shelley Rigger, Brown professor of political science at Davidson College and author of the new book The Tiger Leading the Dragon: How Taiwan Propelled China’s Economic Rise. Shelley recounts Taiwan’s rise as an export-led powerhouse and one of the Asian Tigers, and explains the wave of Taiwanese SMEs (small and medium enterprises) that transformed China into the factory to the world. She also opens a window on world-class Taiwanese companies like Foxconn, which employs some 15 million people in China and assembles some of Apple’s most iconic and consequential products, and TSMC, the world’s most valuable semiconductor company, and discusses how the island’s business relationship with China has complicated politics in Taiwan.

4:34 - The story of Chen Tian-fu, Umbrella King of Taiwan

9:27 - Explaining the psychological distance between Taiwanese and mainland Chinese

19:08 - The conditions that created the Taiwan manufacturing boom

33:42 - Why Taiwan manufacturing moved to the Mainland

48:36 - The vulnerability of Taishang on the Chinese mainland

53:03 - Moving up the value chain: Foxconn and TSMC

1:07:31 - Beyond business: the impact of Taiwan on Chinese cultural life

1:13:52 - Taiwan influence on Chinese institutions

A transcript of this interview is available on


Shelley: Giri/Haji, a joint BBC-Japanese crime drama on Netflix.

Kaiser: Jonathan Franzen’s new novel, Crossroads

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 2021-10-14  1h24m