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After the 2016 elections, cross-Strait relations have fallen to their lowest point since the Third Strait Crisis. A proliferation of state-driven strategic narratives by both sides has since emerged. Against Beijing's narratives of "national rejuvenation," peaceful reunification, and "1992 Consensus," the Tsai administration has contraposed an image of Taiwan as a "beacon" of freedom and democracy in the Indo-Pacific. By tracing the tenets and the operationalization of Beijing and Taipei's strategic communications from the late 2000s to 2020, this article shows how Chinese and Taiwanese actors' reactions to the systemic pressure of a shifting East Asian regional order have progressively shaped cross-Strait communicative dynamics, severely constraining the range of options that could overcome the current impasse.