Tag Archives: Taiwan

Unoffical Allies

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The following articles published in Nippon.com high light the increasingly positive yet complex relationship between Japan and Taiwan. http://www.nippon.com/en/in-depth/a02201/ & http://www.nippon.com/en/in-depth/a02204/.

Despite not having an offical diplomatic relations since the 1970s, Japan’s popularity has risen in Taiwan and vis a versa.  Appreciation for Japan in Taiwan has grown so strong, it has even been given a name, hari. The attitude was perhapes highlighted the most when Taiwan gave about 20billion yen to Japan after the Tohoku earthquake.  Considering Japan’s  rather rocky relationship with other countries in the region  it has managed to garner a support in a small nation that for all purposes has not had any kind of formal relations since the 1970’s.

This has been driven by the desire to stay on the PRC’s good side but at the detriment of official relations with Taiwan.  Ultimately, it is the public on both sides who are driving the relationship. Japan hosts about 1 million Taiwanese tourists each year and Taiwan gets about the same number annually ( it has been fewer lately due to the decreasing value of the yen however).  As both articles allude to it is the culture of both nations that drive them to each other. Japan’s history in Taiwan may also have some amount of influence which the articles touch on but don’t go into too much detail. It is interesting that despite how recent the history is, the overall relationship is relatively positive, but of course that is not saying everyone is supports this sentiment. Hari Kyoko explains how the Taiwanese media has been to heckle people who show appreciation for Japan.

What was interesting from the article was that despite the lack of official diplomatic relations, the appreciation of each others culture through their music, food, attractions, business etiquette, values is what it ultimately at the heart of public diplomacy. PD does not always have to be about forging official ties, it can be as simple as appreciating another culture. This is one facet of soft power. In one of our past readings we discussed how it can be hard to determine what “success” in PD ultimately is.  Personally I believe that a large part of PD, intentional or not, is to show that that the other is human.

 

 

 

Taiwanese PD efforts

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Here is a link to a blog article a friend of mine wrote recently for CSIS:

http://cogitasia.com/mandopop-huayu-fake-food-taiwans-soft-power-opportunities-and-challenges/

Now naturally, Taiwan is pretty unique in that it has international recognition of its existence as a state as a key foreign policy objective. Nonetheless, I think it’s useful to explore how Taiwan uses PD to work towards that goal and exactly how far it can go.

Perhaps the baseline goal of PD is to at least have other publics around the world know who you are and how you are different from the nearly 200 other countries. A friend of mine visited a congressional testimony on the internal conflict in South Sudan, where a congressman had no clue what the country’s predominant religion/s were, what language is spoken there and what the fighting was about. For the busy foreign policy community, it seems that the agendas of many countries are ignored simply because people know little about them.

Back to Taiwan. The ROC government is smart in investing into tourism, media and cultural exchange as a way of promoting national identity. While there is next to no chance of major powers like the United States changing their official stance on China/Taiwan, improved rapport with global publics—especially in the Asia-Pacific region—is likely to increase support for its existence as an independent de-facto state. Especially so if Taiwan can clearly communicate how it is different from China, other than the fact that it is capitalist and democratic.

Creating Mandarin education centers around the world serves as a good competitor to mainland China’s Confucius Institutes, which give out fairly generous scholarships for people to learn the language and/or live in China. The fact that Taiwan is an open, democratic country gives it an advantage; some scholars may be put off by restrictions on what they can and can’t write while studying in China.

Summing up, I think that good PD can create favorable attitudes both among the public in other countries and within the policy community. This alone can at least put certain issues on the agenda.

See you all Wednesday, if the polar vortex doesn’t get us first.