Thu, Aug 09, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Soft power and Taiwan’s future

By Steven Kim

If Taiwan is to overcome its constricted international space and limited hard power to achieve its strategic goals, it must create a completely new or an alternative international space for itself that is not subject to conventional constraints on its ability to shape its external environment.

The creation of this alternative space will depend on the extent to which Taiwan can comprehensively develop its soft power.

Soft power, as a concept developed by Joseph Nye, refers to the ability of a nation to effect a desired outcome in the international arena by creating a positive external environment conducive to its interests.

It can create this environment by selecting and highlighting certain national qualities and traits that have broad appeal internationally to foster positive feelings and attitudes, goodwill toward that nation by the international community.

The more other nations are attracted to and identify with that country’s culture, political values and ideals, policies and accomplishments, the more ability it will have in getting them to support its interests without having to resort to pressure or economic inducements. Therefore, the extent of a nation’s soft power depends on its ability to shape other nations’ long-term attitudes and preferences in line with its interests.

To increase acquisition of soft power as a pressing matter of security, Taiwan must think strategically about how to maximize its soft power by first conducting a thorough review of the resources that it can utilize to shape international perceptions of the nation.

After having identified its soft power assets, it should evaluate how effective it has been in deploying those resources to create programs to improve the nation’s global standing. Only then can it formulate a comprehensive plan to make effective use of the soft power resources to enhance its ability to shape international attitudes and preferences beneficial to Taiwan.

This may require the creation of an over-arching government agency responsible for overseeing programs for enhancing the nation’s soft power.

One of the most important resources available to Taiwan in promoting its soft power is its highly successful model of economic and political development.

Taiwan’s transformation from an underdeveloped and resource-poor nation with a GDP per capita and human development levels comparable to the least developed countries into a regional economic powerhouse with a GDP per capita of US$22,648, high-caliber human resources, and a top-notch technological and scientific infrastructure can become a powerful magnet for developing nations.

Taiwan can therefore enhance its international profile by sharing its development knowledge and experience with nations aspiring for the same rapid development.

To address the pressing needs of these nations, Taiwan should greatly expand its programs, as well as develop innovative new ones, to share its development experience and knowledge with these nations through policy consultations, training and capacity building, official development assistance and overseas volunteer program.

By reaching out and sharing its development expertise with developing nations, Taiwan will be able to enhance its image as a nation working for the betterment of humanity.

Taiwan can also generate international goodwill by substantially expanding its overseas volunteer program and support of non-governmental organizations (NGO) to tackle global issues, such as infectious diseases, climate change, sustainable development, environmental degradation, disaster relief, human rights, gender equality, and food and water security.

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