Exiled Chinese novelist and playwright Gao Xingjian (高行健) yesterday said that Taiwan should increase its influence among Chinese communities.
Gao, the winner of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Literature, noted that Taiwan enjoys full freedom of speech, attaches importance to culture and has a high level of education, which he said, should “enable it to serve as a model for Chinese communities around the world.”
However, he said he felt that Taiwan had yet to make full use of its influence and that Taiwanese had yet to realize they should make full use of it.
Gao, who is visiting Taiwan to take up a two-week post as a chair professor at National Normal Taiwan University, made the remarks during a lecture as part of a series of events to celebrate the 66th anniversary of the founding of the university.
Speaking to more than 400 faculty members and students, he also encouraged the students to read more during their school days.
He said Taiwan enjoys prosperity and a rich cultural life that would be “a paradise in a Chinese community.”
In contrast, the 72-year-old writer said, he went through the Sino-Japanese war, the civil war between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and political upheavals under the CCP regime.
He reminded the students to cherish the opportunities that are within their grasp.
He also recalled that when he was in college, politics made inroads into school campuses during the Mao Zedong (毛澤東) era and that it was difficult for intellectuals to have ideological freedom.
For this reason, he said, he felt scared whenever he entered a college or university.
Any time he was not in the classroom, he would go to the library, he said.
Due to his wide range of interests, he reads voraciously on literature, history and science, he said, adding that he is almost self-taught in terms of his college education.
He encouraged young students to read widely and nurture independent thinking so that in the event of a political storm, they can stay out of trouble.
He also said they should not be confined by particular ideologies and that they should know that the world is pluralistic and not just black-and-white.