Sat, Aug 11, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Raising Taiwan’s profile in the US

By Chin B. Su 蘇成彬

I applaud the government’s long-overdue campaign to enhance Taiwan’s international profile amid China’s bullying — a very important move that should positively affect the nation’s security.

In response to the Taipei Times article on the campaign to counter Chinese bullying, I have another idea for the advertising light boxes at international airports, which, in addition to the anti-bullying advertisements, should be quite effective at promoting Taiwan among Americans (“Publicity campaign to counter Chinese bullying,” Aug. 5, page 1).

It is laughable, but true, that some Americans tend to confuse Taiwan with Thailand. Taiwan is a high-tech hub, a fact unbeknownst to most ordinary Americans.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co is the world’s largest contract chipmaker, providing components for Apple’s iPhones. Simply by creating the awareness that their beloved iPhones contain Taiwanese components is, by itself, an effective means of making Americans recognize Taiwan.

So why not have an additional light-box advertisement that is tailored to make people aware of Taiwan’s prowess in the high-tech industry and, in particular, Taiwan’s relationship with the iPhone?

Such information affects people’s daily lives, so they should notice it more.

Separately, I propose a grass-roots campaign to educate ordinary people in the US about Taiwan. Most Americans know very little about Taiwan. This is simply because US news sources seldom share information about Taiwan.

What is the reason? Well, people anywhere in the world are naturally more interested in affairs that directly affect them, so news about foreign countries tends to be underreported, especially Asian countries.

Remedial action is sorely needed, and that requires creative thinking and proactive measures.

I say sorely needed, because Taiwan’s expatriates in the US or elsewhere who care about Taiwan — and there are countless people who care immensely — are not channeling even some of their efforts to informing the US public about Taiwan.

English is not our mother tongue, which is the main barrier. Many expats, even those with doctorates, are somewhat deficient in spoken or written English. Thus, we tend to shy away from engaging in in-depth discussions about Taiwan with our US friends — especially on political issues related to Taiwan and China, because more sophisticated English is needed to effectively facilitate such discussions.

Neither do many of us write or respond to media outlets, of which there are many.

These problems are exacerbated by the convenience of the Internet, as expats tend to spend most of their spare time on Chinese-language news sites and less time on US news sources. The result is that most expats do not have first-hand knowledge of the political nuances of the country in which they reside.

So what is the remedy?

There are many regional Taiwanese associations in the US and elsewhere. These associations need to encourage their members to allocate more of their spare time to viewing or listening to US news outlets, and to write in or respond when appropriate. If people feel that their English is substandard, they can have their children edit it.

This needs to be “mandated” with a strong message from the leader of the association, in order to push Taiwanese out of their comfort zones — not just by a haphazard announcement.

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