Informal Relations Between Beijing and Taipei: The Expansion of Academic Diplomacy in the Taiwan Strait
Since the Kuomintang returned to power in 2008, Beijing has adjusted its communication strategy towards Taiwan, while maintaining the same long-term goal of reunification. This strategy of rapprochement by seduction rather than by threat promotes the rapid growth of exchanges between the Chinese and Taiwanese populations at all levels: students, tourists, farmers, businessmen, academics, retired diplomats and military, politicians, etc. Especially, the multiplication of meetings between academics of both countries is creating new channels of communication over the Strait, allowing on the one hand to compensate for the lack of formal diplomacy between Beijing and Taipei, and on the other hand to compete with informal diplomatic links existing between Taiwan and several of its partners (US and Japan, mainly). These communication channels could ultimately reinforce Beijing’s strategy – and China keeps investing heavily in their development – but could also be used as a conduit to prevent and to manage crisis would tensions reappear in the Strait.