Isolating Taiwan Beyond the Strait: Chinese pressure tactics in four democracies


  • Johan Englund

Publish date: 2022-05-09

Report number: FOI-R--5250--SE

Pages: 143

Written in: English


  • Taiwan
  • China
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Germany
  • Sweden
  • coercive actions
  • influence operations
  • democracy
  • international relations. One China policy
  • security
  • economy
  • political


Chinese efforts to isolate Taiwan also takes place in the international arena. This study examines how China pursues coercive actions to pressure actors to refrain from engaging with Taiwan in four democratic countries - Japan, South Korea, Germany, and Sweden - and how these democracies have responded to Chinese efforts to isolate Taiwan in their own countries and on the international scene. China's means of isolating Taiwan in the examined countries involve various methods of setting out red lines for engagements with Taiwan: posting "disciplinary" public statements; publishing articles in media; contacting and intimidating media outlets, journalists, and politicians; and pressuring civil society, private enterprises, and academia. Much of China's coercive actions have not been successful, even though there are instances where actors have conceded to Chinese pressure. With the possible exception of South Korea, the examined countries have in general indicated that they are seeking closer relations with Taiwan, albeit within the realm of their unofficial relationships, and that they support increased Taiwanese participation in the international community. Thus, as Beijing's tolerance for other countries' engagements with Taiwan decreases, while democratic countries' sympathies for Taiwan are growing, conflicting positions about what is already a volatile issue are about to sharpen.