In worldwide relations, leaders usually resort to diversionary army motion to dodge home criticisms and enhance approval. For leaders of weak states, such an strategy might be counter-productive. Careless diversionary wars may very possible produce the precise reverse consequence, incurring the wrath of one other nation, threatening the weak state’s safety, and in the end shedding electoral assist at dwelling. The selection of methods is essential within the US-China-Taiwan relationship. With China’s fast enhancement in its army capacities, Taiwan additionally must hold upgrading its army capability to keep up the uneasy established order. As a democratic regime, leaders of Taiwan want public approval to extend army spending. Taiwanese leaders may establish China as the primary enemy to win assist, however such a diversionary framing might additional infuriate China after which backfire at dwelling. Therefore, 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 international coverage rhetoric shifts in response to the presidential elections in each Taiwan (January) and the US (November) in 2020.
To summarize, we offer proof displaying that (1) President Tsai steadily emphasizes the significance of nationwide protection since 2019, and the energy didn’t change due to the presidential elections in each Taiwan and the US; (2) Tsai usually 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 the reelection.
We analyzed all of Tsai’s Fb posts from Jan. 2019 – Jan 2021, leading to 1495 posts, averaging about 2 posts per day. We concentrate on Fb as a result of, in accordance with a 2019 telephone survey with Web customers by Taiwan Community Data Middle, 99% of Taiwanese folks use Fb. President Tsai’s web page has greater than 3 million followers, 1/7 of the Taiwanese inhabitants. She has been actively using Fb as the first instrument to speaking with residents, generally by stay casting talks from the presidential workplace. Subsequently, we contend that one can infer her framing and rhetoric towards particular points from her Fb posts.
We choose the timeframe from the start of 2019 to January 2021. The 12 months 2019 started with China’s Secretary-Basic Xi Jinping’s tough speech on unification and threats of use of drive in opposition to Taiwan. Then again, as of the tip of January 2021, we are able to observe Tsai’s tones after the US presidential election final November.
Amongst all 1495 Tsai’s Fb posts, 185 posts (about 1.8 posts per week) revolve round protection subjects (e.g., nationwide safety, the army, submarines, missiles, conscription, troopers), accounting for 12% of complete posts. Contemplating 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 comparable to festivals, pure tragedies, and home rescue missions are happening. Moreover, Tsai posted at the least 6 NS associated posts for 3 consecutive months after the U.S. common election in November 2020, busting myths that her administration missed nationwide safety to arrange for potential modifications in US-Taiwan relations. Nevertheless, a more in-depth have a look at the determine under reveals that the frequency comports with the common.
In determine 1, a purple pot denotes the variety of NS posts; a blue dot signifies the variety of all the opposite subjects. We may observe a spike of non-NS posts beginning three months earlier than the 2020 common election in Taiwan. Other than these spikes, the frequency for NS and non-NS subjects total are steady.
In the meantime, the framing of NS points additionally underwent main modifications within the interval, particularly when it’s associated to China. In determine 2, the purple dots discuss with NS subjects about China; blue dots cowl all the opposite NS subjects. 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.
In different phrases, because the emergence of COVID-19 and Tsai received the reelection in January 2020, the key theme for NS posts turned to focus extra on the significance of self-defense slightly than instantly belaboring China. Such a choice could also be strategic and really helpful 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. Determine 3 reveals the common of “likes” on Tsai’s Fb monthly for NS and non-NS points. The takeaway – common likes for NS are greater than most non-NS points, reflecting public enthusiasm for NS points. It additionally signifies that Tsai has efficiently taken the possession of NS points from KMT. Nevertheless, it’s unclear if Tsai or her social gathering may proceed to carry on to the possession; elements comparable to her successors, social gathering assist, and experience on these points are elements that affect it.
We seen that the common likes for NS and non-NS subjects each went up after profitable her re-election in Jan. 2020. Maybe this was as a result of 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 along with her change of rhetoric we mentioned within the earlier two sections.
Therefore, we interpret this shift as constructive suggestions from the Taiwanese public on Tsai’s nationwide safety technique alternative. Taiwanese folks know the significance of nationwide safety and are keen to see the President emphasize it (so NS posts obtain extra likes than the others). On the identical time, they are not looking for the President to confront China too early or blatantly for undesirable penalties. Therefore, 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 additionally receives assist from the general public.
The development additionally dovetails with the outcomes from current surveys in Taiwan. For instance, the 2020 Nationwide Safety Survey performed by Duke College reveals that Taiwanese folks elevated their degree of consciousness on nationwide safety and had been extra keen to defend Taiwan, in contrast with the ends in the earlier surveys since 2002. In the meantime, notice that the common likes appear to come back down from the apex in January 2020 in each classes. This lower is wise as Tsai’s private results of profitable the re-election step by step wore off. Because the pandemic continues to unfold, residents would naturally begin being attentive to different subjects.
There are a few caveats. Right here, we didn’t analyze modifications in approval for Tsai throughout this era, barring us from concluding that such ways achieve rising assist for Tsai. One other one is that those that give “likes” to her posts with Tsai are prone to be supportive of her already (i.e., the issue of self-selection). Nonetheless, it’s simple that the variety of likes to her NS posts was recurrently greater than non-NS posts, amid her success in managing the unfold of the pandemic in Taiwan.
Then again, it’s unclear if Tsai is posting NS subjects to consolidate assist inside her base or most of the people. Tsai’s approval was already excessive earlier than the election, so her ways of posting NS subjects may 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 acquire extra consideration and assist at dwelling. Predictably, when the election was over with Tsai’s victory, references to China had been vastly decreased.
This quick evaluation reveals that weak state leaders may use completely different means to win or consolidate public assist. Tsai is persistent in elevating consideration and consciousness of nationwide safety points by her Fb account, however she can also be conscious that over-emphasizing China might be harmful. The alternation in her nationwide safety rhetorics is obvious to this logic. In the meantime, we additionally observe rising assist/likes for nationwide safety points. This means a better consciousness of self-defense points among the many Taiwanese public. Diversionary ways are definitely employed on this case, and Tsai managed them in a self-cautious approach.