While the government seems perfectly comfortable with this, commentators have expressed their concerns over the considerable advantages that Chinese investors have and the political implications if the market were to be flooded with Chinese money. The situation is already beyond the point of “exchange” between the two countries, and the cultural sector, diverse culture and democratic values will be gradually drowned in a deluge of power and money.
The government needs to understand the cultural sector’s predicament. Several major countries, China included, are already following policies of cultural exception and consolidation. The government must conduct a comprehensive appraisal of the impact of free trade in the past and look at what other countries have done. It must apply exceptions for the cultural sector in all future trade deregulation, including in the service trade agreement.
At the same time, it should also come up with policies to improve the domestic arts and culture sector to allow local talent to gain experience in producing products rooted in the culture. It must also strengthen the various links in the cultural production chain, including diverse distribution channels.
Consolidation of the domestic industry does not equate to closing the nation to international trade. When the sector is robust and stable, it can shine on the world stage and spread Taiwan’s cultural values around the globe, while allowing different worldviews — including the viewpoints of civil society and ordinary people in China — to enter.
Lin Lih-yun is a professor at National Taiwan University’s Graduate Institute of Journalism.
Translated by Paul Cooper