Soft Power Rich, Public Diplomacy Poor: An Assessment of Taiwan’s External Communications

Gary Rawnsley

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Accepting that Taiwan has accumulated “soft power” since the introduction of democratic reforms in the late 1980s, this paper assesses Taiwan’s external communications during Ma Ying-jeou’s presidency and how its soft power resources have been exercised. Demonstrating strategic a turn from Political Warfare to public and cultural diplomacy, the paper begins from the premise that the priority must be increasing familiarity about Taiwan among foreign publics. It then argues that any assessment of external communications in the Ma administration must consider the impact of two key decisions: (i) The dissolution of the Government Information Office and the transfer of its responsibilities for international communications to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a new Ministry of Culture; and (ii) the priority given to cultural themes in Taiwan’s external communications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)982-1001
Number of pages15
JournalThe China Quarterly
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2017


  • Taiwan
  • Public Diplomacy
  • soft power
  • Ma Ying-jeou
  • Communications


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