This is one of the Case Studies from the report "Hybrid Threats. A Strategic Communications Perspective".
You can access the full report here.
The People’s Republic of China’s ‘One China’ principle is a fundamental part of China’s foreign policy. It plays a large role in China’s relations with other countries including Taiwan and, more recently, has been included in the Communist Party of China’s 2049 ‘National Rejuvenation’ centenary goals.
China engages in public diplomacy – the means of engaging with foreign publics in service of the national interest – in Taiwan in an attempt to persuade the Taiwanese public of the benefits of one China subordinated to Beijing. In recent years, opinion polls of Taiwanese views on reunification and national identity indicate the results of these efforts have been mixed.
China also makes its ‘One China’ principle a non-negotiable aspect of its relations with other countries. This is part of a campaign to cut off ties with Taiwan in an attempt to force Taiwan to come to the negotiation table.
While Chinese efforts may not have curbed Taiwan’s growing sense of national identity, this activity should be viewed within the context of China’s broader presence on the international stage, its increasing economic and military might; China’s ambitions to ‘rejuvenate and reunify the great Chinese nation’; and China’s continued refusal to rule out the rule of force to achieve reunification.
- Opinion polls in Taiwan have shown that Chinese public diplomacy and soft power efforts in Taiwan have not led to more support for unifcation, nor a growing sense of pan-Chinese identity. A reason for this might be the generational gap: in particular the younger generation no longer have strong family and cultural ties to the Mainland. Some segments of the Taiwanese population might find China attractive from a pragmatic point of view – young people in particular are more open to studying and working in the Mainland – but China’s political culture and socialist market economy are lacking appeal.
- Mainland China, not least due to its autocratic system, is able to pursue its coercive measures and public diplomacy efforts with governmental coherence and a unifying narrative of ‘One China’. In contrast, Taiwan has no such domestic consensus on national identity. Political parties in Taiwan differ over where Taiwan’s roots lie, disagreeing on whether Taiwanese identity and language should mirror that of Mainland China, or whether a distinctly Taiwanese identity should be nurtured.
- Public diplomacy is a process of ‘government to people’ communication through engagement with foreign publics, using words and deeds to shape public opinion, but there should be boundaries. Such activities should be deemed hostile if they attempt to inﬂuence the population in a way that threatens to be hurtful to the target nation or undermines the ruling authority.