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How Taiwan Tacitly Promotes its National Security Agenda

National Security Agenda:

In worldwide relations, leaders typically resort to diversionary navy motion to dodge home criticisms and enhance approval. For leaders of weak states, such a method may very well be counter-productive. Careless diversionary wars might very possibly produce the precise reverse outcome, incurring the wrath of one other nation, threatening the weak state’s safety, and in the end shedding electoral help at the house. The alternative of methods is vital within the US-China-Taiwan relationship. With China’s fast enhancement in its navy capacities, Taiwan additionally must hold upgrading its navy capability to take care of the uneasy established order. As a democratic regime, leaders of Taiwan want public approval to extend navy spending. Taiwanese leaders might establish China as the principal enemy to win help, however, such a diversionary framing could additional infuriate China after which backfire at the house. Hence, we examine how the incumbent President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, manages this dilemma by analyzing how she communicates nationwide safety points to the general public and whether or not her overseas coverage rhetoric shifts in response to the presidential elections in each Taiwan (January) and the US (November) in 2020.

To summarize, we offer proof exhibiting that (1) President Tsai steadily emphasizes the significance of nationwide protection since 2019, and the power didn’t change due to the presidential elections in each Taiwan and the US; (2) Tsai typically talked about cross-Strait relations earlier than Taiwan’s Presidential Election in January 2020, however, barely did so after the reelection; and (3) Taiwanese public has responded to Tsai’s rhetoric extra favorably after she dropped China from her nationwide safety posts because of the reelection.

We analyzed all of Tsai’s Facebook posts from Jan. 2019 – Jan 2021, leading to 1495 posts, averaging about 2 posts per day. We give attention to Facebook as a result of, in keeping with a 2019 phone survey with Internet customers by Taiwan Network Information Center, 99% of Taiwanese individuals use Facebook. President Tsai’s web page has greater than 3 million followers, 1/7 of the Taiwanese inhabitants. She has been actively using Facebook as the first device to speaking with residents, typically by way of dwell casting talks from the presidential workplace. Therefore, we contend that one can infer her framing and rhetoric towards particular points from her Facebook posts.

We choose the time-frame from the start of 2019 to January 2021. The 12 months of 2019 started with China’s Secretary-General Xi Jinping’s robust speech on unification and threats of use of drive-in opposition to Taiwan. On the opposite hand, as of the tip of January 2021, we will observe Tsai’s tones after the US presidential election final November.

Among all 1495 Tsai’s Facebook posts, 185 posts (about 1.8 posts per week) revolve around protection matters (e.g., nationwide safety, the navy, submarines, missiles, conscription, troopers), accounting for 12% of whole posts. Considering the temporal dimension, the frequency with which Tsai referred to nationwide safety (hereinafter “NS”) points are steady, hitting about 7.7 posts monthly except main occasions similar to festivals, pure tragedies, and home rescue missions are happening. Additionally, Tsai posted at the very least 6 NS-associated posts for 3 consecutive months after the U.S. normal election in November 2020, busting myths that her administration missed nationwide safety to arrange for potential modifications in US-Taiwan relations. However, a more in-depth have a look at the determine under exhibits that the frequency comports with the common.

In determine 1, a crimson pot denotes the variety of NS posts; a blue dot signifies the variety of all the opposite matters. We might observe a spike of non-NS posts beginning three months earlier than the 2020 normal election in Taiwan. Aside from these spikes, the frequency for NS and non-NS matters total are steady.

Figure 1

Meanwhile, the framing of NS points additionally underwent main modifications within the interval, particularly when it’s associated to China. In determine 2, the crimson dots confer with NS matters about China; blue dots cowl all the opposite NS matters. The election appears to be a threshold: between 2019 and early 2020, Tsai talked about China on a median of 8.5 instances/month; after February 2020, the frequency dropped to 1.5 instances.

Figure 2

In different phrases, because the emergence of COVID-19 and Tsai received the reelection in January 2020, the most important theme for NS posts turned to focus extra on the significance of self-defense slightly than immediately belaboring China. Such a choice could also be strategic and really useful by the nationwide safety equipment to keep away from confrontation. That being stated, plainly this transformation had little to do with President Trump or any potential modifications in US-Taiwan relations.

We additionally discovered that the general public reciprocates Tsai’s dedication to NS points. Figure 3 exhibits the common of “likes” on Tsai’s Facebook monthly for NS and non-NS points. The takeaway – common likes for NS are increased than most non-NS points, reflecting public enthusiasm for NS points. It additionally implies that Tsai has efficiently taken possession of NS points from KMT. However, it’s unclear if Tsai or her celebration might proceed to carry on to the possession; components similar to her successors, celebration help, and experience on these points are components that affect it.

Figure 3

We have seen that the common likes for NS and non-NS matters each went up after successful her re-election in Jan. 2020. Perhaps this was resulting from a brand new honeymoon interval from her election or the rallying impact from preventing the pandemic. Noticeably, Tsai’s NS posts acquired much more likes in comparison with non-NS posts after January 2020. Tsai’s NS posts acquired 50% extra likes than non-NS posts in eight of the twelve months after she received the reelection, which coincides together with her change of rhetoric we mentioned within the earlier two sections.

Hence, we interpret this shift as optimistic suggestions from the Taiwanese public on Tsai’s nationwide safety technique alternative. Taiwanese individuals know the significance of nationwide safety and are keen to see the President emphasize it (so NS posts obtain extra likes than the others). At the identical time, they don’t need the President to confront China too early or blatantly for undesirable penalties. Hence, Tsai’s change of rhetoric after the 2020 re-election is welcomed by the Taiwanese public. Such a change of technique not solely stabilizes the US-China-Taiwan dynamics but in addition, receives help from the general public.

The development additionally dovetails with the outcomes from current surveys in Taiwan. For instance, the 2020 National Security Survey performed by Duke University exhibits that Taiwanese individuals elevated their degree of consciousness on nationwide safety and have been extra keen to defend Taiwan, in contrast with the leads to the earlier surveys since 2002. Meanwhile, words that the common likes appear to come back down from the apex in January 2020 in each class. This lower is wise as Tsai’s private results of successful re-election progressively wore off. As the pandemic continues to unfold, residents would naturally begin being attentive to different matters.

There are a few caveats. Here, we didn’t analyze modifications in approval for Tsai throughout this era, barring us from concluding that such techniques achieve growing help for Tsai. Another one is that those that give “likes” to her posts with Tsai are more likely to be supportive of her already (i.e., the issue of self-selection). Nevertheless, it’s plain that the variety of likes to her NS posts was commonly increased than non-NS posts, amid her success in managing the unfold of the pandemic in Taiwan.

On the opposite hand, it’s unclear if Tsai is posting NS matters to consolidate help inside her base or most people. Tsai’s approval was already excessive earlier than the election, so her techniques of posting NS matters would possibly strengthen sure pictures of her inside her supporters. Tsai did point out extra of China earlier than the election, supporting the logic that an exterior enemy does assist leaders to acquire extra consideration and help at the house. Predictably, when the election was over with Tsai’s victory, references to China have been enormously decreased.

This brief evaluation exhibits that weak state leaders might use totally different means to win or consolidate public help. Tsai is persistent in elevating consideration and consciousness of nationwide safety points by way of her Facebook account, however, she can also be conscious that over-emphasizing China may very well be harmful. The alternation in her nationwide safety rhetorics is clear to this logic. Meanwhile, we additionally observe growing help/likes for nationwide safety points. This signifies the next consciousness of self-defense points among the many Taiwanese public. Diversionary techniques are actually employed in this case, and Tsai managed them in a self-cautious means.

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