Changing Patterns of Threat Securitization in Democratic Taiwan

Project: Research

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The core objective of this research is to use and develop concepts from the influentialCopenhagen School of international security studies to illuminate and explain a critical unitleveldevelopment that has had the effect of improving the international security situation ofthe entire East Asian (Northeast and Southeast Asia together) regional security complex: thereduced proclivity of Taiwanese elites to define various moves by the PRC as security threats.Compared to the previous DPP presidency of Chen Shui-bian (2000-2008), Taiwanese eliteshave been far less likely to attempt “securitizing” PRC moves of multiple types during thecurrent DPP presidency of Tsai Ing-wen, which began in May 2016. The question is: Why?What explains this puzzling change over time?Three hypotheses are proposed: (1) integration of the “local knowledge” that Taiwanesebusinesses have gained about Chinese affairs from living and working in the PRC for a quartercenturyinto policymaking processes in Taipei increases the confidence of Taiwanese elites andtheir sense of “agential power” when addressing PRC issues, thus reducing anxiety-fueledsecuritization attempts; (2) the same effect results from the near-universalization throughoutthe island of a Taiwan-centric consciousness; and (3) external balancing – convincing theglobe-level superpower (the U.S.) to continue supporting Taiwan as a result of its politicalideologicaltransformation (democratic consolidation) – also increases bedrock confidence,although it reduces agential power.The hypotheses will be tested and explored over 30 months of research and writing through theuse of documentary materials and interviews of Taiwanese public figures, resulting inapproximately four journal articles (to be submitted to high-quality outlets) and a singleauthoredbook manuscript (to be submitted to a university press). The research is primarilyintended to be a scholarly contribution to the disciplines of political science and internationalrelations, but it is also expected to be of interest to policymakers and other analysts.


Project number9042740
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/09/18 → …