Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) yesterday rebutted the “monoculturalist” label attached to Taiwan by self-confessed Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, saying the country’s culture is a mix of Western and Asian elements.
Taiwan’s culture accommodates elements of Western and Asian culture and is a close combination of the traditions of Chinese culture and Taiwanese culture, which has created a “Taiwanese culture with Chinese characteristics” or a “Chinese culture with Taiwanese characteristics,” Wu said.
Wu made the remarks in response to a media query concerning Breivik, who cited Taiwan, South Korea and Japan as countries that he looks up to in his hopes to promote a monocultural society in Norway and Europe.
Wu said that Taiwan has a history of several hundred years of development, with a cultural heritage left by Western countries such as the Netherlands and Asian countries such as Japan during their colonization of the nation.
Other than those, Chinese culture was first brought to Taiwan 300 years ago and again by a second wave of immigrants from China since 1945.
“In addition, Taiwan’s Aborigines have always been here,” Wu said. “I think Taiwan has a rich culture in which all ethnic groups live together in harmony.”
Even American jazz music has been introduced to Taiwan, as has Western technology, he said.
“As a result, many talented people were born here,” he added.
Wu said that a well-functioning, stable and mature democracy has been built up in Taiwan at all levels of central and local government after several decades of democratization.
“Given this, what the Norwegian killer said [about Taiwan] is not true at all,” he said.
Mentions of Taiwan are sprinkled throughout a rambling 1,500-page manifesto that Breivik authored and apparently e-mailed on Friday, the day of the attacks.
“Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are today our role models for the conservative movement ... These three models contain a majority of all the political principles we seek to restore,” says Breivik’s “2083: A European Declaration of Independence.”
Breivik sent out the manifesto an hour before he killed 76 people by exploding a bomb in downtown Oslo and gunning down teenagers at an offshore youth camp.
The massive document details the careful planning behind the attacks, as well as descriptions of his far-right, anti-immigration political beliefs and his fear of a Muslim takeover of Europe.
Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are singled out as examples in his document because of their strict immigration policies, which he said should be seen as a model for western Europe and “viewed as an inspiration for future cultural conservative governments.”
Racial and ethnic purity, as well as proposals for a highly “monocultural society,” appear to be the hallmarks of the document, which has been compared to a call-to-arms for far-right extremists against Muslim immigration to Europe.
“As for current national political systems, I especially admire the Japanese, South Korean and Taiwanese system. These three countries reject multiculturalism outright and have instead focused on maintaining and protecting their monoculture,” it says.
His remarks appear to come as a contradiction to the fact that more than 450,000 foreign immigrants — mainly foreign spouses from China, Vietnam and Indonesia — have settled in Taiwan since 1987, according to National Immigration Agency statistics.
Undeterred, the suspected gunman claims that there are similarities between Japan, South Korea and Taiwan’s strict immigration policies and those adopted by Nazi Germany, an ideology that he says should be re-evaluated.
Apparently basing at least parts of his research on Wikipedia, Breivik lists the three Asian countries as part of the political systems he most admires, saying that their “monoculturalist” policies should be introduced in western Europe.
His 1,500 page manifesto, full of references to far-right extremism, also envisions a day when European countries are joined together in a military alliance with countries including, surprisingly, Taiwan, after NATO dissolves sometime in the future.
Breivik, 32, has described himself as a crusader seeking to put a stop to growing levels of Muslim immigration across Europe. He is being charged under Norway’s anti-terrorism laws, but his lawyer has indicated that he would plead not guilty to criminal responsibility, despite confessing to the attacks.
Geir Lippestad, Breivik’s lawyer, has suggested that he could plead insanity.