The Diplomat was kind enough to run a piece by me: Taiwan's Anno Horribilis in The Diplomat
The constant use of terms like “lucrative” or “suffering” to describe the effects of Chinese tourism in Taiwan highlights their key political role: Chinese tourists are aimed squarely at local Taiwan politics and at the international media. By sending in flows of tourists Beijing builds local patronage networks. They also offer Beijing a way to generate and then manage foreign media reporting through “goodwill” or “tensions” as needed, which costs Beijing nothing (outbound tourism is an import and cutting it helps Beijing’s trade numbers) yet has little real effect on Taiwan. When cut off, its patrons in Taiwan can be expected to scream loudly, and be heard in the dutifully unskeptical international media. Beijing’s tourism taps may not be an economic success, but they make effective political theater.If the international media hadn't fallen dutifully into line with Beijing's intent in reporting on the protests without reporting on their political context, perhaps my taxpayer dollars wouldn't be going to subsidize these businesses which had cynically invested in Beijing's tourist flows...
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