Within this alternative picture of tortured but visible cultural progress, what is the best policy for Taiwan?
With major changes occurring at the apex of the Chinese political system, Taiwanese should embrace a strategy of non-governmental activities assisted by government grants and administration assistance.
Through tourism, joint media ventures, education, cultural policy, city rejuvenations and major events planning, greater understanding can be promoted.
Political dialogue should focus on cultural projects at the highest level between parties in Taiwan, and across contending interests in China.
Youth culture and employment policies could promote greater understanding between the two nations through internships and student exchanges.
Encouragement should be given to low-cost strategies of rapprochement that in no way reduce Taiwanese sovereignty and are pursued at a global level –— such as joint projects in other nations, especially in Africa, Brazil and India.
This may be labeled cultural stealth, but it is an approach that could be effective at relatively low cost, involves partnerships in which Taiwan is at least an equal and may have the upper hand, and is more positive in terms of internal Taiwanese politics than is the present emphasis on “handling China,” which is at best an issue beyond any one party’s control.
Ian Inkster is professor of international history at Nottingham Trent University and professor of global history at Wenzao Ursuline College.