Ramon H. Myers

Senior Fellow

Ramon Myers passed away in November of 2015.

Ramon H. Myers was a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

He received his PhD in economics from the University of Washington. After joining the Hoover Institution, Myers became a member of the US Wheat Studies Delegation to the People's Republic of China in May–June 1976; served as a consultant to the Food Agricultural Organization, Rome, Italy, from November 1979 to January 1980; and taught as a visiting professor of economics at National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, in 1990–91.

The author of more than one hundred journal articles and book reviews, he was also the associate editor of the Journal of Asian Studies and edited Ch'ing-shih wen-t'i (Studies in Ch'ing History). In 1980, Garland Publishing issued a forty-four volume series that Myers selected and edited entitled The Modern Chinese Economy.

His scholarship and public policy interests have focused on

  • Japanese colonization and imperialism: coedited The Japanese Colonial Empire (Princeton University Press, 1984), The Japanese Informal Empire, 1895–1931 (Princeton University Press, 1989), and The Japanese Wartime Empire, 1931–1945 (Princeton University Press, 1996).

  • Chinese economic history: The Treaty Port Economy in Modern China: Empirical Studies of Institutional Change and Economic Performance (Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley, 2012), coedited with Billy K.L. So; authored The Chinese Peasant Economy (Harvard University Press, 1970), The Chinese Economy, Past and Present (Wadsworth Press, 1978), and two essays in The Cambridge History of China (in vol. 9, part 1, and vol. 13, part 2).

  • Taiwanese history: coauthored A Tragic Beginning: The 1947 Rebellion in Taiwan (Stanford University Press, 1992), The First Chinese Democracy: Political Life in the Republic of China on Taiwan (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997), coauthored with Tai-Chun Kuo Taiwan’s Economic Transformation: Leadership, Property Rights, and Institutional Change (Routledge Press, 2011).

  • Asian international affairs: Defending an Economic Superpower: Reassessing the US-Japan Security Alliance (Westview Press, 1989), and Greater China and US Foreign Policy (Hoover Press, 1996). Edited Two Chinese States: US Foreign Policy and Interests (Hoover Press, 1978).

  • History of the Republic of China: coedited Storm Clouds over China: The Memoir of Ch'en Li-fu, 1900–1993 (Hoover Press, 1994), Last Chance in Manchuria: The Diary of Chang Kia-ngau (Hoover Press, 1989), and Prescriptions for Saving China: Selected Writings of Sun Yat-Sen (Hoover Press, 1995).

  • China area studies: coedited The New Chinese Leadership: Challenges and Opportunities after the 16th Party Congress (Cambridge University Press, 2004), Making China Policy: Lessons from the Bush and Clinton Administrations (Rowman and Littlefield, 2001) and Understanding Communist China: Communist China Studies in the United States and the Republic of China, 1949–78 (Hoover Press, 1986). Edited The Wealth of Nations in the Twentieth Century (Hoover Press, 1997).

    His research papers are available at the Hoover Institution Archives.

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Recent Commentary

Great Wall of China
Analysis and Commentary

Will the Nile flow into the Yellow River?

by Tai-Chun Kuo, Ramon H. Myersvia San Jose Mercury News
Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chinese leaders have hinted at political reforms several times, showing that Beijing understands the need for change. Could China be the next Egypt...?

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Starting Anew on Taiwan

by Ramon H. Myers, Hsiao-ting Linvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, April 16, 2008

In 1949, Chiang Kai-shek faced both utter defeat and a second chance. What he did next. By Ramon H. Myers and Hsiao-ting Lin.

Breaking with the Past

by Ramon H. Myers, Hsiao-ting Linvia Analysis
Friday, December 14, 2007

Few defeated political parties in wartime have the opportunity to make a fresh start in a new location. Even fewer can leave their failures behind and go on to succeed. The Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang, KMT) was such an exception. In late 1949, having been almost destroyed by the Chinese Communists, the KMT relocated to Taiwan and reinvented itself. Not only did the KMT leadership build a new party that has endured for five decades, but it built a new polity on Taiwan that created economic prosperity and China’s first democracy.

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Vinegar Joe and the Generalissimo

by Tai-Chun Kuo, Hsiao-ting Lin, Ramon H. Myersvia Hoover Digest
Saturday, July 30, 2005

During World War II, personal relations between Chiang Kai-shek, the Chinese Nationalist leader, and General Joseph Stilwell, America’s top military adviser to China, grew famously acrimonious. The strained relationship, some have argued, may have had dire consequences for the Nationalists, who lost the Chinese civil war to the Communists in 1949.

Newly opened documents in the Hoover Institution Archives of T. V. Soong, one of Chiang’s closest aides, shed new light on the matter. Chiang, the documents show, considered firing Stilwell as early as 1942—and had the blessing of top American officials to do so—but ultimately chose not to. Had Stilwell been replaced, might history have been different? Tai-Chun Kuo, Hsiao-Ting Lin, and Ramon H. Myers consider one of history’s most intriguing “what-ifs.”

SIDEBAR: A New Window on Modern Chinese History

The Modern China Archives and Special Collections

by Ramon H. Myers, Tai-Chun Kuovia Analysis
Monday, February 7, 2005

In 1899, twenty-five-year-old Herbert Hoover and his wife, Lou Henry, were living in Tientsin, China, where he was the comanager of the Kaiping mines. It was there that Hoover first began to study Chinese language and history. In 1907 Hoover helped Stanford University historian Payson Treat buy books about China, especially its history, and in 1913 Hoover donated six hundred such books, some very rare, to Stanford University. In 1919 Hoover’s interest in foreign affairs inspired him to establish the Hoover Institution Library and Archives. After World War II with luck and good timing, Chinese and non-Chinese public servants, military officers, engineers, journalists, scholars, and the like began donating their private papers and other materials to the Hoover Institution, where they were to be preserved and made available to interested readers. The papers of T. V. Soong are one of many preeminent collections. Americans involved in China, such as General Albert Wedemeyer and General Joseph Stilwell, also donated their papers to the Hoover Archives.

In 2003 the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace signed an agreement with the Chinese Kuomintang (KMT), or Nationalist Party of the Republic of China (ROC), to help preserve the vast historical records held in that party’s archives in Taipei, Taiwan. As the longest-enduring political party in Asia, the KMT was China’s premier revolutionary party until it was defeated in 1949 by Communist Party forces and forced to relocate in Taiwan. The historic Hoover agreement provides for microfilming the official party records, which will stay in Taiwan, along with a preservation copy. A use copy will be made available in the Hoover Archives.

When Chinese in the United States and Taiwan, including the National Women’s League in Taipei, learned of the KMT-Hoover cooperative project, they too agreed to have their materials preserved in the archives. (The Soong family began donating its materials to the Hoover Institution Archives in 1973, followed by additional papers in April 1980 and again in the spring of 2004.)

Those donations helped create the Modern China Archives and Special Collections. These special collections are now being integrated with the China-related material accumulated since 1919. (Trade press materials, such as published vernacular Chinese books and serials, were transferred from the Hoover Archives to the Stanford University Libraries in 2002.)

Some Implications of the Turnover of Political Power in Taiwan

by Ramon H. Myersvia Analysis
Monday, April 1, 2002

On March 18, 2000, Taiwan’s citizens voted the Nationalist Party (KMT) out of office and the Democratic Progressive Party’s candidate Chen Shui-bian in as president. The implications of this peaceful turnover of political party are that, instead of negotiating with mainland China’s authorities to achieve a political settlement of the divided China problem, President Chen has opted for negotiations to take place under a special state-to-state relationship. At the same time, President Chen’s administration has launched a “silent revolution,” promoting Taiwan nationalism: a shared belief that Taiwan has the qualifications of a sovereign nation, that it has a special state-to-state relationship with mainland China, and that its people have the ethnic identity of Taiwan, not Taiwan and China. Meanwhile, the Chen administration, like the Lee Teng-hui administration before it, is changing symbols, rewriting Taiwan’s history, and promoting cultural values of Taiwan inclusiveness to promote Taiwan nationalism and to carry out the de-Sinofication of Taiwan. In response, mainland China’s authorities offered a new interpretation of the “one-China” principle, but the Chen administration rejected that concession. Political fragmentation continues. These developments have frozen cross-strait negotiations and put Taiwan and mainland China on a collision course. But long-term developments, such as growing integration of the Taiwan–mainland China market economies, a revitalized political opposition, and a favorable perception of mainland China’s modernization could neutralize Tai-wan’s nationalism and restart cross-strait talks.

Flashpoint, Taiwan

by Ramon H. Myers, Linda Chaovia Hoover Digest
Monday, October 30, 2000

The fate of Taiwan is one of the world’s most hotly disputed issues. Hoover fellows Linda Chao and Ramon H. Myers explain what China and Taiwan—and the United States—can do to ease tensions.

The Divided China Problem: Conflict Avoidance and Resolution

by Ramon H. Myersvia Analysis
Thursday, June 1, 2000

This essay describes the origins of the divided China problem and how it has become the most troublesome factor in Sino-U.S. relations. From interviews and documentary evidence, the authors argue that Taiwan and mainland China achieved a détente in April 1993 and agreed on rules for negotiations to take place. Rather than propose a federation formula for resolving the Taiwan-China sovereignty issue, and to counter the 1979 federation proposal offered by Beijing's leaders, the Lee Teng-hui administration tried to redefine Taiwan's relationship with "China" and win U.S. support for its strategy, thereby undermining Sino-U.S. relations and aggravating Taiwan-mainland China relations. The authors propose how the divided China problem might be peacefully resolved and argue that the U.S. government and Congress should extend military support for the Republic of China regime only on the condition that it negotiate with the People's Republic of China regime under the "one-China" principle to resolve the divided China problem.

The Problem of Chinese Nationalism

by Ramon H. Myers, Thomas A. Metzgervia Hoover Digest
Thursday, April 30, 1998

Its economy thriving, its military growing, will China embark on an expansionist foreign policy? Hoover fellows Thomas A. Metzger and Ramon H. Myers argue that the Chinese are far too realistic for that—and have been for more than a thousand years.


Taiwan’s Economic Transformation: Leadership, Property Rights, and Institutional Change

Taiwan's Economic Transformation: Leadership, Property Rights and Institutional Change 1949-1965, Myers' most recent book.