Sat, Nov 12, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Letters: Taiwan needs marketing plan

By Walter Chung , TAIPEI

Taiwan is an independent nation. Unfortunately, the only people that seem to be aware of this are the people of Taiwan and overseas Taiwanese. Meanwhile, China is doing everything in its power to make sure that no one outside of these two groups is aware of this. Therefore, Taiwan's independence is as much about politics as it is about marketing.

To prove this point ask yourself this question: What is Taiwan's position regarding independence and China's claim of sovereignty?

Now ask yourself, what is China's position with regard to Taiwan? I bet you had a much harder time answering the first question than the second question. I expect that among the world's population, very few people know what Taiwan's position is with regard to China's claim of sovereignty, but many people know what China's position is.

How is this possible? In a single word the answer is marketing. Like in the business world, governments market their policies in hopes of gaining public awareness and support.

Regarding the subject of cross-strait relations and Taiwan's independence, China has for years been successfully marketing its policy that this is an internal affair that doesn't concern outsiders. By contrast, what has Taiwan done? If your answer is "I do not know," then Taiwan has not effectively engaged and utilized a successful marketing campaign to mobilize public opinion against China's outrageous claims. However, it is not too late for Taiwan to begin its own worldwide marketing campaign. Taiwan can effectively market the fact that it is an independent nation to the rest of the world and hopefully rally the support of other nations.

China is presently winning the cross-strait marketing war. Its main armory consists of two short and concise "marketing slogans." The first slogan is that Taiwan is a renegade province that must be reunited with China, by force if necessary. The second is that the Taiwan issue is an internal issue. You cannot read a news article or listen to a news broadcast without hearing either or both of these "marketing slogans."

Like any good marketing campaign, China's message has been unwavering and consistent. Indeed, every news service in the world seems all too happy to attach China's "slogans" to every news story. What has China's marketing message done to world opinion? It has caused the people of the world to stay out of the Taiwan-China debate.

In effect, China has effectively pre-empted any open discussion of cross-strait issues and Taiwan independence by persons not directly affected by it, thus isolating Taiwan from the rest of the world.

So, what can Taiwan do to combat China's claims? Taiwan needs to implement its own worldwide marketing campaign to educate people that it is an independent nation. World opinion matters. It can help to shape the foreign policy of other nations and create support for Taiwan. It is not too late. Taiwan has the ability to create an effective marketing campaign with little additional effort. This is because Taiwan already has great name recognition among the residents of all countries. Specifically, Taiwan has a name already known to many people around the world, whether they realize it or not. For decades, consumers around the world have seen "Made in Taiwan" labels on the products that that buy. These small labels have built name recognition for Taiwan. Therefore, Taiwan can and should build on this name recognition to its own benefit.

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