One China, Two Taiwans: The Geopolitics of Cross Strait Tourism

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Date(s) - 30/05/2018
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

Room E561, 5th Floor, East Wing, Menzies Building (Building 11)

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The People’s Republic of China and Taiwan together compose one of the world’s most dangerous geopolitical hotspots.   When tourism began
officially in 2008, it was promoted by politicians, industry, and scholars in both China and Taiwan as a mode of reconciliation and peacemaking after decades of tension and travel bans. This trade began while China claimed Taiwan as its own territory under the so-called
“One China Principle”, Taiwan and China have drifted farther apart politically, and Taiwan itself has been split socially by the tourist trade.

Following a major social movement against economic integration with
China and the 2016 election of a more independence-leaning president
and legislature, China froze official communication with Taiwan and
reduced outbound tourism, throwing the future of cross-Strait relations
into question.

Based on participant-observation, interviews, and media analysis
conducted between 2012 and 2016, I demonstrate that despite the
wishful thinking of pundits and politicians, tourism has accelerated
alienation between the two polities and deepened divisions within
Taiwan. I show that tourism is no mere leisure activity, but rather
another mode of an ongoing geopolitical struggle. This case has
important implications for countries like Australia that are increasingly
reliant on inbound Chinese tourism.

Dr Ian Rowen
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Ian Rowen is Assistant Professor in the new program in Geography and
Urban Planning at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. A Fulbright
Scholar (2013-14), he has written about regional politics, social movements,
and tourism for publications including Annals of the American Association of
Geographers, The Journal of Asian Studies, Annals of Tourism Research,
International Journal of Transitional Justice, Asian Anthropology, Journal of
Archaeology and Anthropology, the BBC, and The Guardian. Prior to
earning a PhD in Geography from the University of Colorado Boulder, he
worked as a tour guide, translator, and journalist in China, Taiwan, and elsewhere.