Taiwan’s Public Diplomacy and World Health Assembly (WHA)

« Taiwan’s Public Diplomacy and World Health Assembly (WHA) ». Call for paper for a special issue of the International Journal of Taiwan Studies.

Guest Editor:

  • Professor Gary Rawnsley (Aberystwyth University)

Abstract deadline:

  • 15 July 2018


Public diplomacy, defined as the communicative act of informing, engaging, and influencing publics overseas to advance national and strategic interests, may have three principal beneficial effects: encourage the growth of popular familiarity with Taiwan; generate sympathy for Taiwan’s exclusion from mainstream international politics; and offer general support for the government’s political and strategic agendas. Public diplomacy may also enable Taiwan to challenge the dominant narratives communicated by the PRC’s own expanding public diplomacy programme. While it is not a panacea for the problems Taiwan faces in the ‘disabling environment’, public diplomacy can shape the way Taiwan interacts with its environment and manage its response to the challenges it faces. By devoting more attention to its international communications and engagement activities, Taiwan will be in a stronger position to preserve its national security and interests, create diplomatic opportunities with other nation-states and organisations, and address the non-traditional threats that today require a more collaborative style of management.

Successive governments have failed to embrace the potential of Taiwan’s soft power and have therefore neglected to develop the kind of coherent public diplomacy programmes that may advance Taiwan’s interests. A new strategic direction should orient Taiwan’s public diplomacy around achievable goals that will build a momentum of international familiarity, empathy, and support. It is possible to argue that Taiwan’s long-term goals may be eventually realised by the collective support accumulated from different small-scale campaigns directed towards other foreign policy objectives. Hence, it is important to identify achievable short and medium-term goals, such as opening a dialogue about Taiwan’s membership of more functional organisations such as the World Health Assembly (WHA) and raising familiarity about Taiwan among international public opinion. This would require a co-ordinated programme of activities around a specific theme or set of themes, including why the international community should pay attention to Taiwan.

Essays in this special issue will build upon the above considerations to understand how Taiwan may build a public diplomacy campaign to seek membership of the WHA. We invite submissions from all disciplines to address any of, but not limited to, the suggested topics as follows:

Context: The reasons for, and consequences of (for Taiwan and the world) of Taiwan’s exclusion from the WHA
Current campaigns for membership: The structure, content and reasons for failure of Taiwan’s campaigns to join the WHA
Future campaigns for membership: The possible architectures of public and cultural diplomacy strategies, as well as multi-media communication campaigns, to generate support for membership of the WHA

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Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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