Public Diplomacy has to be at the core of Taiwan’s Strategy

In the past year, even as relations with China have improved, Taiwan’s government has been stepping up efforts to raise the island’s profile.
It is part of a strategy promoted by President Ma Ying-jeou, who says Taipei must increase its so-called “soft power” if it is to stand on the international stage.
The strategy is wide-ranging. It includes developing globally famous brands, boosting Taiwan’s presence not only in the high-tech sector but also in arts, food and fashion, and marketing great things about Taiwan.
As a result, the government has poured millions of dollars into supporting performance troupes, filmmakers and even pop singers.
Some of them have enjoyed regional or international acclaim, including a government-funded film that won an award at the Berlin International Film Festival this year. There are plans to spend $200m (£128m) to help the movie industry.

– BBC reports on Taiwan’s focus on developing its soft power.

Inter-governmental diplomacy can only do so much.
Military build up, will only lead to costly and ultimately unsustainable arm race.
Public diplomacy aiming at western, regional and also the Chinese across the strait is what will bring peace and stability for Taiwan.

Offshore balancing is the most viable American grand strategy

Offshore balancing, which was America’s traditional grand strategy for most of its history, is but another option. Predicated on the belief that there are three regions of the world that are strategically important to the United States—Europe, Northeast Asia and the Persian Gulf—it sees the United States’ principle goal as making sure no country dominates any of these areas as it dominates the Western Hemisphere. This is to ensure that dangerous rivals in other regions are forced to concentrate their attention on great powers in their own backyards rather than be free to interfere in America’s. The best way to achieve that end is to rely on local powers to counter aspiring regional hegemons and otherwise keep U.S. military forces over the horizon. But if that proves impossible, American troops come from offshore to help do the job, and then leave once the potential hegemon is checked.

-John J. Mearsheimer describing the essence of offshore balancing strategy.

In this paper prominent realist Mearsheimer review America’s grand strategy in the post-cold war period, and argue why the liberal imperialist strategy adopted by Clinton were bad and the global dominance strategy by Bush were even worse. He as a realist predictably advocate offshore balancing strategy, which i agree should have been utilized during Clinton and Bush years, and is probably the best strategy going forward. It was a predictable but well paper, as a realist with some liberal leaning, i would only add that offshore balancing should be coupled with continue economic and culture engagement with the subject of its balancing (China).

Geopolitics and American grand strategy is a fascinating subject, i have wrote a short paper on it in the past。Check it if you are really bored.

Discourse on American hegemony and Asia-Pacific geopolitics.

After America, by Ian Buruma.

Every so often, a grand thesis captures the world’s imagination, at least until it is swept away by events or by a newer, more plausible thesis. The latest one to do so, in policy think tanks, universities, foreign ministries, corporate boardrooms, editorial offices, and international conference centers, is that America’s time of global dominance is finished, and that new powers, such as China, India, and Russia, are poised to take over. It’s an idea that has had as much currency within the United States as elsewhere.

All great empires set too much store by predictions of their imminent demise. Perhaps, as the Greek poet Constantine Cavafy suggested in his poem “Waiting for the Barbarians,” empires need the sense of peril to give them a reason to go on. Why spend so much money and effort if not to keep the barbarians at bay?

Read the rest.

After reading four long pages of Ian Buruma, one thing is certain – The discourse on the relevant issues has not change at all since the time I was an international relation graduate student in the year 2003.

A good read if you are not familiar with these issues, if you are, don’t bother.