Travel Grant 2023

The TAP Travel Scholarship was again awarded to three students with exciting research projects in 2023. Here is a little insight into their research projects:

Florian Paulsen

Young, Taiwanese, and entrepreneurial: navigating engagement with Mainland China’s production networks and value chains

The growing reliance on P.R. China-dominated ‘red supply chains’ has raised global concerns regarding trade disruptions, restrictions, and national security implications. In this context, Taiwan, with its unique political status, democratic governance, and intricate economic relationship with China, offers valuable research insights. However, scant scholarly focus has been directed towards those who inherently co-shape forthcoming economic cross-strait trajectories: Taiwan's present and future entrepreneurs. “Young, Taiwanese, and entrepreneurial” – the project adopts an exploratory methodology to investigate the level of awareness among young Taiwanese entrepreneurs concerning ‘red supply chains’, explore the risks and opportunities they face, and analyze their attitudes and strategies while engaging with Chinese value chains and production networks. The younger generations have grown up in a democratic and increasingly globalized environment, shaping and fostering a collective Taiwanese identity distinct from Chinese self-identification. Nonetheless, they also exhibit increased openness towards the business opportunities presented not only by China's position in global value chains but also by its growing consumerist society. This research employs a mixed-methods approach, incorporating in-depth interviews and focus-group discussions with private and public sector stakeholders in Taipei and Kaohsiung. Additionally, a cross-sectional online survey will be conducted to gather broader insights. The findings from this exploratory research will contribute to a deeper understanding of how young Taiwanese entrepreneurs navigate economic liberalism while engaging with their Chinese counterparts.

Alena Dorakh

Alena Dorakh currently works on a research project on the economic impact of Taiwanese foreign direct investment (FDI) in the European Union's semiconductor industry. Specifically, she proposes, calculates, and analyzes the FDI capacity index to measure the EU members' ability to attract and absorb FDI from Taiwan by establishing a semiconductor fabrication facility, thereby securing the semiconductor supply chain. Additionally, her research includes an evaluation of the indirect effects of PR Chinese semiconductor policy restrictions, which create opportunities for the Taiwanese semiconductor companies to strengthen their trade and FDI connections with the EU.


Frédéric Krumbein

Leaving the
dragon’s shadow – Normative Power Europe and the emergence of a Taiwan policy
in the EU?

In recent years, the biggest change in EU-Taiwan relations has been that the EU increasingly views Taiwan as a partner and an independent entity, even though the "One China Policy" continues to provide the framework for EU-Taiwan relations. Under the "One China Policy", the EU and its member states only recognise the People's Republic of China (PRC) as the sole legitimate government of China, not Taiwan as part of the PRC. While the EU's Strategic Outlook on China in 2019 only mentions Taiwan in a footnote, the European Parliament adopted its first ever resolution on EU-Taiwan relations in 2021. Taiwan has also been included in the EU's Indo-Pacific Cooperation Strategy as a partner with which the EU wishes to deepen cooperation. Media coverage of Taiwan in Europe has also increased significantly in recent years, and most Europeans have a positive attitude towards Taiwan.

Shared values are a basis for bilateral relations. The theoretical approach of Normative Power Europe (NPE) can explain the relationship between the EU and Taiwan to a certain extent. The NPE emphasises the importance of values for the EU's identity and policies.
Overall, political and economic relations between the EU and Taiwan are very good, according to public statements and unified opinions during my interviews in Taiwan with EU, member state and Taiwanese foreign ministry diplomats and academics in 2022 and 2023. The EU pursues normative objectives in its policy towards Taiwan, i.e. the promotion of democracy, human rights, mutually beneficial trade relations and peace and stability in cross-Strait relations. Of the EU institutions, the European Parliament and the parliaments of the member states are the most supportive of Taiwan, as they are often in favour of democracy and human rights.

However, many of the changes in relations between the EU and Taiwan are more symbolic than substantive. For example, the number of EU statements and resolutions on Taiwan and political visits to Taiwan praising Taiwan's democracy and human rights has increased. But at the substantive level, such as the conclusion of a bilateral investment treaty or other agreements or security co-operation, the changes are far less tangible. 
Member states with strong economic ties with China, especially Germany and France, are more cautious in expanding their political relations with Taiwan, even though they are strengthening economic cooperation with Taiwan.

Moreover, the impact of the NPE on Taiwan and China is difficult to measure. At first glance, the EU has not succeeded in convincing Taiwan to refrain from abolishing the death penalty, the EU's most important human rights concern vis-à-vis Taiwan. However, it is at least likely that the EU's opposition to the death penalty has contributed to the fact that the death penalty is now rarely used under President Tsai.
The true test of the EU's normative power is its ability to persuade or deter China from changing the status quo without Taiwan's consent, and thus the EU's power to protect Taiwan's democracy. However, it is impossible to know whether the EU's public statements of support for the status quo and increasing support for Taiwan have had any effect on China's (potential) approach to Taiwan. China has increased its pressure on Taiwan on all fronts, but it is also possible that China would have gone further without the increasing attention and support Taiwan is receiving from the EU and other countries.

Finally, Taiwan fits in well with the EU's current geo-economic strategy and policy. The EU and its member states are endeavouring to reduce their dependence on China and diversify their trade relations. Taiwan's global leadership in semiconductor manufacturing is another economic factor driving EU-Taiwan relations. In EU-Taiwan relations, not only common values are important, but also common interests.


First, if the EU wants to achieve its goals on Taiwan in the long term, it should coordinate more with the United States, Japan and other democracies on how to deter China from using force against Taiwan and how to increase support for Taiwan. Second, the multi-layered and decentralised nature of the EU's governance system makes major policy changes difficult, but creates many opportunities for engagement with Taiwan at different levels of government. Partnership agreements between European and Taiwanese cities, such as between Taipei and Prague, are examples of this. Increased exchanges between people at different levels can also reduce the lack of knowledge about Taiwan in the EU. Thirdly, the EU should increase its symbolic support for Taiwan, for example by proposing a free trade agreement or strengthening cooperation in the areas of defence and security.