Strategic cross-Strait discourse: A comparative analysis of three presidential terms

J. Sullivan*, E.V. Sapir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Republic of China presidents Chen Shuibian and Ma Yingjiu have espoused substantially varied positions at different times on cross-Strait relations. Given the prominence of the presidents' rhetoric in an otherwise relatively stable relationship, these discursive fluctuations have been a cause of consternation and curiosity for observers of the cross-Strait relationship. However, their behaviour is consistent with democratic politics in general (issues and policy stances evolve and emerge, and political actors must engage and appeal to a wide range of stakeholders with varied agendas) and in terms of the growing influence of distinct sectors (such as big business) within Taiwan. This article puts forward a method for analysing this variation across three presidential terms, namely Chen's first and second term and Ma's first term. How does the content of both presidents' public pronouncements develop over time? How does the content of their discourse vary according to the strategic context of the constituency they are addressing? What does this reveal about the strategy and strategic relationships behind presidential rhetoric in Taiwan? In addressing these questions, the article contributes a quantitative perspective to existing work on political discourse in Taiwan and to the growing methodological and applied literature on how to systematically analyse Chinese political text.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-30
Number of pages20
JournalChina Information
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


  • Chen Shui-bian
  • Ma Ying-jeou
  • Taiwan
  • cross-Strait relations
  • electoral discourse
  • presidential speeches


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