In order to elevate Taiwan’s international influence, President Tsai Ing-wen has promoted the New Southbound Policy (NSP) since taking office in 2016. Think tank diplomacy is a driving force behind the flagship NSP to build more resilient relations with Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.
Think tank diplomacy is one of the most important tools with which Taiwan conducts diplomatic relations in the absence of formal ties, and it plays a pivotal role in the New Southbound Policy. Taiwan-Asia Exchange Foundation (TAEF), established in 2018, is Taiwan’s flagship think tank for promoting the NSP and is the only Taiwanese think tank focused on NSP partner countries.
As Taiwan makes further progress in elevating its diplomatic relations with NSP partner countries, it is both timely and natural for think tanks to assume a larger role in Taiwan’s regional strategy. TAEF can build more institutional ties with think tanks in NSP partner countries through a series of institutional agreements, Memorandums of Understanding, and concrete collaborative projects to achieve meaningful results.
TAEF hosts the annual Yushan Forum in October, serving as one of the most important platforms and drivers of think tank diplomacy. The event, inaugurated by President Tsai herself, aims to promote policy dialogues between the governments and civil society organizations of Taiwan and NSP partner countries by focusing on issues of social innovation and progress. The forum derives its name from “Yu Shan,” the tallest mountain in Taiwan, which symbolizes Taiwan’s desire to achieve new heights in regional engagement and showcase its resilience.
The theme of the 2022 Yushan Forum will focus on three points: Revitalizing, Reorienting, and Reconnecting, with a focus on NSP countries’ flagship plans for growth and development. President Tsai hopes that the Yushan Forum will convey her strategic objectives, with her statement “Taiwan helps Asia, Asia helps Taiwan” becoming the tagline for Taiwan’s regional diplomatic ambitions. The strategic use of think tanks and their public events can spotlight and articulate Taiwan’s foreign policy agenda abroad, serving as one of the most important political communication tools of the Tsai administration.
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