Chains, Continuums, and Virtuous Cycles: Parsing Taiwan’s Strategic Narratives and Soft Power Leadership in the Indo-Pacific

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Connections: The Quarterly Journal, Volume 21, Issue 1, p.89-103 (2022)


Indo-Pacific, Leadership, strategic narratives, Taiwan


Following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in late 2019, Taiwan’s international profile rose to prominence. Its public diplomatic campaign in distributing then-depleted stocks of facemasks provided a degree of international solidarity in a growing atmosphere of economic nationalism. Its government-led strategy of preventative measures that kept normalcy on the island while large swaths of the world entered restrictive lockdowns also became a model of resilient public health policies and trust in government directives. Capitalizing on these developments, Taiwan’s soft power approach toward its constrained international profile also took on new prominence as it sought to leverage its technological leadership in the context of disrupted, vulnerable global supply chains. This article analyzes Taiwan’s strategic narratives as it invests in conceptualizing an arena of increased great power contestation: the Indo-Pacific. It focuses on how elite narratives have employed several discursive strategies that increasingly aim to redirect and reorient supply chains to meet the (un)certainties of geopolitical ideological positioning.