label r shifted
Session B5
One China, Two Taiwans: The Geopolitics of Cross-strait Tourism
Ian Rowen
Department of Sociology and Geography, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

This paper, excerpted from a new book manuscript about the geopolitics of cross-Strait tourism, narrates the political performances and sociocultural shifts that took place in Taiwan during and after the Ma-era boom in inbound Chinese tourism. This section examines the implementation and representation of the PRC authorities’ retaliatory cuts to tourism in 2016, and itsinstrumentalization of Taiwan’s tourism industry as a tool of political warfare. In particular, it explains how Taiwan’s industry protest, which implicitly demanded that Taiwan’s new president accept a domestically unpopular “One China Principle” in order to rescue its business, articulated a remarkable geopolitical convergence with China’s territorial project.

Based on this and other sections of the manuscript, the paper concludes by suggesting that Taiwan of the Taiwanese life-world and Taiwan of the Chinese tourist trade has been performed as two different nations that intersect and interlace to span the same island. The first Taiwan is simply Taiwan as a lived space, socially distinct and politically de facto independent but, largely due to Chinese pressure, diplomatically unrecognized by most of the world. The second Taiwan is an indivisible part of China, an irredentist fantasy land sketched by official PRC rhetoric, perceived by a dwindling number of dyed-in-the-wool ROC partisans, and performed by complicit parts of the Taiwanese tourist industry. These performances have perforated the metaphorical ‘fourth wall’ of the staged tourist circuit, to reconstitute Taiwan’s political society and its relationship with China.