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GlobalAsia- Taiwan’s Place in Northeast Asia’s Memory Contests: Can Strategic Diplomacy Help?
Amy King offers a refreshing new angle on the difficult problem of historical memory disputes by unpacking the “memory politics” of an under-studied Northeast Asian case, Taiwan, and by examining how the strategic use of diplomacy features even in the realm of memory contests. She first shows how memories of Japanese colonialism have been constructed and contested by Taiwan’s political elites as a response to both debates over domestic political identity and the changing regional security environment since the 1980s. The essay argues that the contest over historical memory within Taiwan is a good case for examining the practice of strategic diplomacy we describe as “the process by which state and non-state actors socially construct and frame their view of the world; set their agendas; and communicate, contest and negotiate core interests and goals.” The essay examines how the Ma Ying-jeou government (2008-16) used “strategic memory diplomacy” — including the memory of Japanese colonialism, Chinese resistance against Japan in the Second World War and the Kuomintang’s period of martial law in Taiwan — to achieve simultaneously four apparently contradictory policy aims: stabilize cross-strait relations, maintain Taiwanese sovereignty, enhance Taiwan’s international status and strengthen Taiwan’s relationship with Japan.
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