Abstract

Abstract:

In March 1979, Tuvalu’s government newspaper began an ongoing discussion of Tuvalu’s Asian diplomacy, highlighting the rapid development of relationships with East Asian nations like Taiwan shortly after Tuvalu’s independence in 1978. Contemporaneously, the Taiwan government began reporting on early diplomatic forays into Pacific nations, including Tuvalu. These newspaper and government reports are frequently characterized by a narrative style that suggests the complexities of Pacific-Asia relationships at the time and that provides a foundation from which more recent discourse on Tuvalu-Taiwan relations can be contextualized. In this paper, I adopt a Pacific studies rationale, articulation theory, and discourse analysis. I examine official Tuvaluan and Taiwanese narratives from the 1970s and 1980s to demonstrate how early diplomacy was determined not by official maneuvering but by preexisting trans-local connections. Subsequently, in analyzing Tuvaluan and Taiwanese leadership statements from 2000 to the present, I sketch how, more recently, Tuvalu and Taiwan have used each other to shape their national identities. However, I also highlight connections to earlier narratives, especially tension in Tuvaluan discourse due to fisheries conflicts with Taiwan and preoccupation in Taiwanese discourse regarding whether Taiwan is superior to Tuvalu. Finally, I demonstrate how articulations between early narratives and more recent discourse foreground Tuvaluan and Pacific agency and complicate assumed Asia-Pacific power hierarchies.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9464
Print ISSN
1043-898X
Pages
pp. 448-475
Launched on MUSE
2019-10-03
Open Access
No
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