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From Dire Straits to Growing Dependency: Tracing the (Re)framing the of Taiwan’s Trade Policy toward China

Yuan-Ming Chiao
University of Kassel
Yuan-Ming Chiao
University of Kassel
Open Panel

Abstract

In the aftermath of the Chinese civil war between Communist and Nationalist forces in 1949, the Taiwan Strait had been the site of open military conflict whilst symbolizing the oft-institutionalized brinkmanship of the Cold War between communist and capitalist camps. The conflict, while not technically resolved in any observable treaty, has transformed due to the logics of the liberalized market economy as barriers between residents and restrictions on trade were relaxed in the late 1980s and both sides sought to capitalize on lucrative cross-Strait trade prospects. At present, the Strait increasingly represents a porous discursive border where local and national identities are bisected with increasing trends of regional and global economic integration. In 2010, both sides signed a historical and controversial trade agreement (‘Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement’). This paper addresses the interaction between Taiwanese state, party and business elites in the formulation of trade policy with China, where the grand narrative of reunification or independence serves the “normative measuring stick” to make sense of cross-Strait political interaction. Identifying hegemonic discourses of policy elites in Taiwan in time of democratic transitions of power, this paper also examines the effects of competing and complementary globalization narratives and the role of domestic elites in the framing of national identity and economic sovereignty issues with regard to trade. Utilizing frame analysis, the resonance of select frames created by policy elites in political parties in the articulation of trade policy including the use of identity politics, and the integration of competing discourses are analyzed.