The PRC’s Influence Operations in Taiwan Post 2008

Date of Award

Summer 12-12-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

MA in Geopolitics and International Relations


Department of Geopolitics & International Relations

First Advisor

Mr. Tanvir Jaikishen


The end of the civil war in China saw the People’s Republic of China (PRC) being established by the Communists in 1949. The defeated Kuomintang government and their allies fled to the island of Taiwan separated from the mainland by the Taiwan Strait. Ever since, Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China (ROC), has been governed autonomously from mainland China. While in the initial years after 1949 Taiwan was under martial law and dominated by the nationalists from the mainland, the process of democratisation that began in the 1980s has led to Taiwan transforming into a competitive democracy. The political system is starkly different from that of the mainland. The PRC maintains that Taiwan is a renegade province of China which will eventually be reunified. The PRC has time and again emphasised on the peaceful reunification of Taiwan with the motherland; however, the PRC hasn’t explicitly ruled out the use of force in fulfilling the objective. The goal of reunification has especially been gaining steam under current Chinese President Xi Jinping. The reunification of Taiwan with the motherland has been listed as an important goal to achieve the Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation by 2049. China has been engaging in several influence operations in Taiwan to aid the reunification efforts. This paper will seek to explore China’s influence operations in general, how they have operated in Taiwan and what are the different factors at play affecting the influence operations. The paper will focus more on the influence operations carried out post 2008. The year 2008 saw Beijing-friendly president, Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang (KMT) party, come to power; this led to an improvement in cross-strait relations. Succeeding him in 2016, President Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) came to power. President Tsai, though not in favour of reunification, ascertained that she would maintain stability in cross-strait relations. This paper will try to understand how and whether Chinese influence operations varied during President Ma’s tenure and President Tsai’s tenure.