Taiwan’s external relations have been mainly examined from the traditional perspective, which sees territorial conquest as the most important problem in the study of international security. This article asks how and why non-traditional security is relevant to Taiwan’s foreign policy. In order to answer this question, it examines the articulation of Non-traditional Threats to Security (NTS) and their framing in the discourses of the Taiwan Presidents Chen Shui-bian and Ma Yingjeou. It finds that threats of an economic nature and threats related to pandemics are the most prominent NTS in the island’s political rhetoric. This article highlights the opposite processes taking place on the national political stage when the political elites refer to NTS. One the one hand, the discourse about economic threats to security limits Taiwan’s participation in global trade. By linking trade to the question of sovereignty, the political labelling of this issue, originally considered to be of an economic nature, translates into protectionist trade policies with respect to China. On the other hand, the new understanding of pandemics as a threat to security opens the door of opportunity for Taiwan’s participation in international affairs, as it enables Taiwanese politicians to speak about the island’s observer status in the World Trade Organization (WHO) not as a political issue related to the question of sovereignty but as an issue of human security.
TEKA of the Commission of Political Science and International Affairs Lublin 11(1), pp.151-174