A New Phase of Informal Diplomacy: The Image of Taiwan in ASEAN Countries
Keywords:4D model of the country image, Informal diplomacy, Taiwan, One China principle
Today, China’s intransigent intent to reunify with Taiwan has been given a deadline, so tensions across the Taiwan Straits are at an unprecedented level. The Taiwanese government is fully aware of the critical nature of soft power, since its small area and population size limits its hard power. Aiming to strengthen the relationship with its neighbors, including Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) nations, Taiwan faces a twofold problem: it lacks diplomatic relations with ASEAN member states and China, which exerts great regional influence, will stress this to follow its One China principle. One solution for Taiwan might be adjusting its informal diplomacy, including public diplomacy. To attract cooperation from ASEAN citizens, Taiwan promotes its image through official and unofficial networks. How the Taiwanese image is perceived among ASEAN nations is studied with a four dimensional (4D) model of the country image. The goal is to reflect the effectiveness of Taiwan’s new phase of informal diplomacy. Results are that Taiwan’s image is positive among nations already linked to it. However, Taiwan is not widely popular in the ASEAN community, insofar as many ASEAN citizens are unaware of its existence. Three factors potentially helping to promote the Taiwanese image and boost its popularity in ASEAN nations would be popular culture; the Taiwanese people, especially celebrities; and democratic virtues.
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