‘Stand Up Like a Taiwanese!’: PRC Coercion and Public Preferences for Resistance

Taiwan’s opposition to PRC demands such as acceptance of the ‘92 Consensus’ and ‘One Country, Two Systems’ formula since 2016 has invited a series of retaliatory measures from Beijing, designed to coerce Taiwan into compliance. Given the stark asymmetry in economic size, military capability, and diplomatic status, Taiwan provides a case for studying coercive diplomacy that takes the form of threats to punish. Material differences suggest that Taiwan should capitulate, and ‘cheap talk’ theses expect PRC threats to have no discernible effect, while balance of threat arguments expect resolve. Chong argues that the popular support for resisting China rises as PRC coercion grows and Taiwanese citizens increasingly perceive China to be a threat. His research finds that citizens in a liberal democracy can develop the will to pushback against pressure from an authoritarian regime despite sharp asymmetries in capabilities and material limitations. Over time, the PRC has to decide how much it wishes to bear the growing costs and risks of escalation to overcome resistance.