Sullivan, Jonathan and Lowe, Will
Chen Shui-bian: on independence.
The China Quarterly, (203), .
Chen Shui-bian achieved an international reputation for his promotion of Taiwan independence. Whilst that reputation may have been well earned, the analyses on which this conclusion is based are frequently flawed in two ways. First, by using an undifferentiated notion of independence, they tend to conflate sovereignty with less threatening expressions of Taiwanese identity and pro-democracy discourse. Second, by failing to take into account the impact of immediate strategic context, analysts ignore a fundamental element of democratic political communication. In our empirical analysis of more than 2,000 of Chen’s speeches, we seek to avoid both flaws by unpacking the concept of independence and taking into account Chen’s strategic relationship with his primary audiences. Our findings challenge popular portrayals of Chen, but more importantly they have strong implications for policy makers and students of political rhetoric with regard to current and future ROC presidents.
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