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 influential Copenhagen School of international security studies to illuminate and explain a critical unitlevel development that has had the effect of improving the international security situation of the entire East Asian (Northeast and Southeast Asia together) regional security complex: the reduced 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 elites have been far less likely to attempt “securitizing” PRC moves of multiple types during the current 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 Taiwanese businesses have gained about Chinese affairs from living and working in the PRC for a quartercentury into policymaking processes in Taipei increases the confidence of Taiwanese elites and their sense of “agential power” when addressing PRC issues, thus reducing anxiety-fueled securitization attempts; (2) the same effect results from the near-universalization throughout the island of a Taiwan-centric consciousness; and (3) external balancing – convincing the globe-level superpower (the U.S.) to continue supporting Taiwan as a result of its politicalideological transformation (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 the use of documentary materials and interviews of Taiwanese public figures, resulting in approximately four journal articles (to be submitted to high-quality outlets) and a singleauthored book manuscript (to be submitted to a university press). The research is primarily intended to be a scholarly contribution to the disciplines of political science and international relations, but it is also expected to be of interest to policymakers and other analysts.


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