Cultural Diplomacy: Taiwan

Posted on Wednesday, October 30, 2013 by Unknown

Cultural Diplomacy: Taiwan
By: Laura Conigliaro

Cultural diplomacy has emerged as a key method for Taiwan’s leaders working to increase the island’s international recognition and prominence on the world stage. Defined as a combination of public diplomacy and soft power encompassing a wide range of activities including the, “exchange of ideas, values, traditional and other aspects of cultural identity”, the purpose of cultural diplomacy can be to strengthen relations, enhance socio-cultural cooperation, promote national interests or, perhaps in the unique case of Taiwan, to counter negative propaganda sponsored by certain states concerned about its nation status.[1]
While public diplomacy has been heavily emphasized since the Republic of China’s (ROC’s) foundation in 1911, the power of cultural diplomacy has received more recognition recently under the leadership of President Ma Ying-jeou. The Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Foreign Policy Report released on March 18 this year calls for promoting democracy, freedom and equitable prosperity as a mode of enriching Taiwan’s “viable diplomacy” by way of soft power and cultural diplomacy.[2] By linking its’ existence to norms-based values of democracy, Taiwan has maintained the United States and other democratic allies’ support, with arms sales being a prime example, that it could not have been sustained otherwise given diplomatic pressures from the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Other common attributes of a country’s cultural diplomacy commonly include tourism, educational exchanges, and popular culture. These measures demonstrate good prospects for Taiwan moving forward on the international stage with regards to diplomatic, economic and cultural spaces even as political space remains constricted.

Tourism: Taiwan is as a popular tourist destination with increasing numbers of visits in recent years. Over 5 million visited the country in 2010, with that number rising to over 7 million in 2012.[3] Of those numbers, about half are characterized as ‘foreigners’ and half ‘overseas Chinese’, illustrating Taiwan’s allure not only as a leisure destination for non-Chinese but also perhaps as a comparatively intact representation of traditional Chinese Culture relative to the PRC. Representations of traditional Chinese culture that can be seen in Taiwan but are virtually non-existent in the Mainland include some traditional festivals no longer celebrated in the PRC due to their prohibition by the ruling Chinese Communist Party.[4] These include ceremonies celebrating the birth of Confucius and the Burning of Wang Yeh’s Boat Festival. Other Chinese cultural signatures lost in the Mainland that still exist in Taiwan include Yayue (ancient Chinese court music) and the common use of traditional Chinese characters.

Educational Exchanges: The number of U.S. students studying abroad in Taiwan has increased over the years from 367 in 2005 to 814 in 2010, with a similar trend for total foreign students studying in Taiwan.[5] Foreign exchanges alter global perception of Taiwan in the international space by giving the opportunity for students to have first-hand experience in the country. First-hand experience gives foreign students the chance observe Taiwanese culture and values, which are likely to highlight its distinctness from the Mainland, and provide inspiration for them to later become advocates for Taiwan in the international community. In addition, educational exchanges increase the use of traditional characters among the Chinese-learning community, promoting Taiwanese Mandarin.

Another related development under the Ma administration has been the establishment of Taiwan Academies (台灣書院) in response to China’s Confucius Institutes (孔子學院) in New York, Los Angeles, and Houston. [6] The administration’s goal is for Taiwan Academies to act as a “platform of cultural exchanges” for Taiwan and Mandarin Chinese in order to raise awareness among the global community of Chinese culture with “Taiwanese characteristics.”[7]
Music: Throughout Mainland China, the majority of popular music artists are of Taiwanese origin, including artists such as Jolin Tsai, A-Mei, Jay Chou, S.H.E. and the band Wu Yue Tian. The influence and popularity of these stars in Taiwan and in Asia bring double rewards. Not only are Mainlanders exposed to the Taiwanese Mandarin accent and culture from their songs or television program appearances, such as A-Mei’s role as one of the judges in China’s version of the popular talent competition television show, “The Voice”, they also commonly see traditional characters in song lyrics. Even if an individual has never met a person from Taiwan, by listening to music by Taiwanese artists or watching television programs that feature Taiwanese actors or storylines, they can become familiar and identify with Taiwanese culture. 

Gastrodiplomacy, or winning hearts and minds through food, has been adopted by ROC leaders in efforts to help global audiences better differentiate Taiwan from the Mainland by increasing awareness of its unique cuisine.[8] Throughout 2013, the Taiwan Ministry of Economic Affairs will invest the equivalent of US$4.2 million in the promotion of Taiwanese cuisine globally, including plans for the organization of international Taiwanese food festivals and arrangements for Taiwanese chefs to attend international cooking competitions.[9] Examples of Taiwanese foods include bubble tea, stinky tofu, beef noodle soup and iced sea-salt lattes.[10] Like other forms of Track Two diplomacy, such as sports diplomacy made famous by Ping-Pong competitions between China and the U.S. in the 1970s, food diplomacy is an effective way to simultaneously build people-to-people cross-cultural ties. Taiwan leaders can engage in food diplomacy by utilizing popular dishes to promote a positive image of Taiwan to the world without the need to continuously touch on or explain current political issues to a diverse audience.                                                                               
Foreign Students Participate in Confucian Coming-of-age Ceremony in Taipei

[1]  For more on the definition and purpose of cultural diplomacy, please visit, “What is Cultural Diplomacy?,” Institute for Cultural Diplomacy at  
[2] Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Foreign Policy Report, 8th Congress of the Legislative Yuan, 3th Session,” on March 18, 2013 at  
[3] Visitor Arrivals by Year  (1956~)  
[4] Cindy Sui, “Keeping traditional Chinese culture alive,” BBC News, October 13, 2011 at
[5] See Open Doors Fact Sheet: Taiwan Institute of International Education,d.dmg ;Taiwan Ministry of Education, “Statistical Summaries: The Number of Foreign Students Studying in Taiwan Exceeds 17,500 in 2007,” at  
[6] Aries Poon, “Soft Power Smackdown! Confucius Institute vs. Taiwan Academy,” The Wall Street Journal Blog, August 12, 2011 at
[7] “Taiwan Academies open in 3 US cities,” The China Post, October 16, 2011 at
[8] Paul S. Rockower, “Projecting Taiwan: Taiwan’s Public Diplomacy Outreach,” Issues & Studies 47,no.1 March 2011 at  
[9]Paul S. Rockower, “Projecting Taiwan: Taiwan’s Public Diplomacy Outreach,” Issues & Studies 47,no.1 March 2011 at
[10]Robert booth, “Taiwan launches ‘gastro-diplomacy’ drive,” The Guardian, August 8, 2010 at

Event - Panel On Security and FP, US-NZ Pacific Partnership Forum

Posted on Monday, August 5, 2013 by Project2049Institute

On May 21, Project 2049 CEO/President Randall G. Schriver participated and shared his expertise on the Panel on Security and Foreign Policy at the 2013 US-NZ Pacific Partnership Forum held in Washington, DC. 

See event video below:

Event - How to Realize the Asia Rebalance's Rhetoric

Posted on Wednesday, June 5, 2013 by Project2049Institute

On June 4, members of the Asia-Pacific Strategy Working Group from the Project 2049 Institute, Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) introduced a memorandum to President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress on formulating an effective and comprehensive American diplomatic, economic, and military strategy in Asia during a public symposium on Capitol Hill.

See event video below:

China’s Military Power and America’s Poor Pacific Hedge

Posted on Tuesday, May 14, 2013 by Project2049Institute

By Ian Easton

Image: Associated Press, Yusha, Taipei Times

As linguistic constructs in international relations go, hedges are far more appealing than walls. Unlike the image of static concrete block fixtures, the means of cold war containment that walls often bring to mind, the notion of hedging conjures a sense of a bucolic international landscape where nations live happily side by side with their neighbors, their respective plots of territory demarcated by living branches that allow reasonable passage through while also assuring sovereignty. 

It therefore makes perfect sense that American policymakers and Pentagon officials frequently refer to America’s defensive arrangements in the Asia-Pacific as “hedges” against the inherent unknowns related to the emergence of the People’s Republic of China. Indeed, while Beijing’s economic reforms over the past three decades have created tremendous trade and business opportunities, China’s sustained investments into its military power are evoking a rising level of concern across the region. Chinese behavior in the East and South China Seas, the India-China border region, and across the Taiwan Strait has even led some observers to view China as potentially revisionist and aggressive power in the making. 

Given the longstanding U.S. policy of engaging with Beijing to reduce misunderstanding and create win-win scenarios, any terminology even remotely reminiscent of 20th century style barrier building is understandably unwelcome in the lexicon of U.S.-China relations. This is why the idea of hedging, with all its benign associations, is so popular. There is just one problem. America’s hedges in the Pacific are becoming far too low to be of much defensive value.

 As both allied and axis troops quickly learned in the post D-Day battle across northern France in World War Two, a high hedgerow represents a formidable obstacle to an offensive force, while a low hedge serves only to speed bump the crushing weight of tank treads. In other words, while a high hedge can keep an aggressor at bay, a low hedge invites conquest. If the U.S. is going to keep the nations of the Pacific from becoming the battlefields of the 21st Century, it will be critical that the proper defensive arrangements and security structures are cultivated in the region. Anything less could tempt catastrophe. 

As should be clear from the Pentagon’s recently released report on the military and security developments involving the People’s Republic of China, the strategic landscape of the Asia-Pacific has transformed in ways unthinkable ten years ago. According to the report, “Current trends in China’s weapons production will enable the PLA to conduct a range of military operations in Asia well beyond Taiwan, in the South China Sea, western Pacific, and Indian Ocean. Key systems that have been either deployed or are in development include ballistic missiles (including anti-ship variants), anti-ship and land attack cruise missiles, nuclear submarines, modern surface ships, and an aircraft carrier.” 

It is therefore more than a bit disconcerting that the U.S. military presence and posture in Asia with respect to China has remained basically unchanged over the past decade and no drastic changes are planned for the coming years. As one former commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet recently remarked, “if you look at the number and quality of U.S. ships and aircraft stationed in the Western Pacific to defend Japan and Taiwan and others from a potentially hostile China, you’ll notice that they are basically the same as they were in the 1990s when China’s capabilities were a fraction of what they are today. You have to ask, are we keeping up? Numbers matter in this business after all.” 

Indeed, despite repeated and widely publicized Pentagon messaging campaigns designed to allay regional concerns regarding America’s slowly diminishing preponderance and China’s growing strength, many U.S. friends and allies are left feeling that Washington is making a half-hearted effort to prepare for worst case scenarios. Catchy, non-specific references to a “pivot” or “rebalance” to the Asia-Pacific sound great, but when no flood of new resources follow, these sound bites quickly begin to ring hollow.

Observers see U.S. military air and naval bases in Japan, Okinawa, and Guam that are highly vulnerable to China’s power projection capabilities. They see the U.S. military deploying its newest and most advanced fighter aircraft and submarines not to the Asia side of the Pacific where they are desperately needed, but rather to the American side of the Pacific where it is cheaper to base them; this leaving frontline U.S. airmen and sailors to operate platforms older than their most of their commanders and crews. They see a U.S. military that is making massive budgetary cutbacks, scaling back its war fighting capabilities and reducing combat readiness.

In sharp contrast, China continues to engage in a long-term, high tempo effort to prepare for all out war, constructing vast underground bunkers capable of housing thousands of fighter aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles and ballistic missiles – and dozens of submarines. This unparalleled military engineering program is backed up by redundant networks of deeply buried command posts that are protected by the world’s thickest screen of air defense radars and interceptors, the world’s largest cyber warfare force, and the world’s most active space warfare program. In short, China is preparing for all possible futures, while the U.S. is drifting rudderless without a strategy to deal with the unknowns lurking in 2020 or 2025. 

Looking ahead, if the U.S. is to keep pace with the growing security challenges it is facing in Asia with regards to China, it will be imperative that Washington policymakers recognize the key trends, and adjust accordingly. America’s alliances and defensive arrangements in the Asia-Pacific have underpinned the region’s dramatic growth over the past half century. This legacy has earned Washington an unparalleled degree of credibility and access. If the United States can harness these advantages to maximize its leverage and strengthen its means of deterring aggression, the coming decades are going to continue delivering regional peace and prosperity. 

 But it won’t be easy, investments and sacrifices will have to be made. There is no silver bullet for assuring China will exercise its growing power benevolently, and Beijing’s track record so far inspires vanishingly little hope. As such, the United States needs to engage in a long-term effort to regain its atrophying traditional military superiority, instead of risking a greater emphasis on nuclear escalation. At the core of our mindset must be preparing for war fighting across a range of known and possible contingencies with a focus on high-end conventional war. The nation needs to make this ramp up in the Asia-Pacific a reality because strength deters aggression, hard power matters, and wars properly prepared for, rarely occur. Cultivating better hedges is the place to start. 

CCTV interview with President and CEO Randy Schriver on challenges and opportunities in Sino-U.S. relations

Posted on Tuesday, May 7, 2013 by Project2049Institute

Preisdent and CEO Randy Schriver speaks at FPI Hill Briefing: New Leaders, Old Problems: U.S. Policy Toward Asia

Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 by Project2049Institute

On 15 February 2013, P2049 President and CEO Randy Schriver spoke at the Foreign Policy Initiative's Hill Briefing on "New Leaders, Old Problems: U.S. Policy Toward Asia." His remarks are available in the videos below:

Who will be in the Next Central Financial and Economic Leading Small Group?

Posted on Thursday, February 21, 2013 by Project2049Institute

By L.C. Russell Hsiao and Mark Stokes

We may be going out on a limb here – but what the heck. With the annual session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) less than two weeks away (on March 5), the China-watching community has been buzzing about who will assume future government leadership posts in the People's Republic of China. 

The upcoming NPC meeting(s) – separated by four frantic months of speculation for China watchers – dovetails the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) 18th Party Congress in November 2012 that handed the dragon head baton for the top Party leadership posts to its Fifth-generation leaders. The carefully sequenced and orchestrated Party-State leadership transitions continue to underscore the Party’s dominant role in the Chinese political system (arguably from which everything else follows). 

This annual conclave stands out also because it will reveal a new cabinet, including the premier (which is a gimme), vice-premiers, state councilors, and ministers. More importantly, the turnover will mark the official handover of administrative control of the State from Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao to Xi Jinping’s and Li Keqiang’s administration. However, with all the fuss about who’s going to have what portfolio in the Politburo, little attention has been paid to memberships in a key body called the “Central Financial and Economic Leading Small Group” [中共中央财经领导小组] [1], which advises the Party Politburo on economic policy and coordinate implementation of policy decisions. 

Now, let’s get something straight: Only the most senior party members and some party elders in Zhongnanhai are privy to know and decide who will actually [emp. added] be the next heads of these coveted top-level government posts included in this small group and others like it. For instance, the story about whether or not PBoC Governor Zhou Xiaochuan will step down as the head changed several times in just the past month, with the latest report indicating that the Party elders agreed to have him stay for another year or maybe two.[2] As our exercise suggests, and given the central authorities dogmatic pursuit for stability, precedents also seems to have a role and do matter in Chinese politics.

So assuming as premise that precedents do matter: Incoming premier and second-in-command within the CCP’s Politburo Standing Committee, Li Keqiang – who will control domestic policy including economic policy – will therefore take over the position as the director of the leading group. The new executive vice premier will take the position as the deputy director. The secretary-general will likely be the vice premier with the portfolio for finance and economic development. All four vice premiers (including the executive vice premier) will be represented in the group. Other members will include the chairman as well as vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, and the State Councilor who will likely be serving as the secretary-general at the State Council, including the heads of the Ministry of Finance, People’s Bank of China, and four regulatory bodies: SASAC, SFC, SRC, and IRC.

We know that our line-up is one of many possible scenarios that may result in this key body (and may resemble a game of musical chair) – but what's work if you can't have a little fun? [3]

L.C. Russell Hsiao is Senior Research Fellow at the Project 2049 Institute. Mark Stokes is the Executive Director of the Institute.

[Note: We feel it necessary to pay our respects to the giants in the field of future leadership analysis, such as Alice Miller, Barry Naughton, Cheng Li, Bo Zhiyue, Willy Lam, and James Mulvenon, among others, whose seminal works helped informed our guestimate – we are solely responsible for its inaccuracies.]


1. The current members in the Small Leading Group include Wen Jiabao, who serves as the group’s director, and Li Keqiang as the deputy director. Members of the Small Leading Group included Hui Liangyu, Zhang Dejiang, Wang Qishan as the secretary-general, and Ma Kai, Zhang Ping, Xie Xuren, Zhou Xiaochuan, Wang Yong, Guo Shuqing, Shang Fulin, Xiang Junbo, and Zhu Zhixin as the deputy secretary-general.
2. Given age limitations, at least five members of the SLG likely will retire after the 19th Party Congress in 2017 (e.g., Liu Yandong, Ma Kai, Xie Zhenhua, and Zhou Xiaochuan).
3. Please feel free to send us an e-mail at [email protected] to tell us why you think we are right or wrong!

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