Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) said yesterday that she hoped political tensions between Taiwan and China would ease sufficiently for the publishing sectors in both countries to be able to work more closely together.
“Although Taiwan is at a political and military disadvantage [compared with China], its culture enjoys an advantage, especially in the publishing sector,” Lung said at an international book fair conference in Taipei.
Lung said she hoped Taiwan and China would “lower political fences” and establish closer ties in the field of publishing, thereby enabling Taiwan to sell more books there.
Eleven international book fair directors from countries including Germany, the US, Italy, South Korea and Poland, attended the conference, held for the first time in Taiwan.
Peter Weidhaas, chairman of the Conference of International Book Fairs, of which Taiwan is a member, said the nation’s publishing industry would be more competitive if more of its books were sold in China.
Weidhaas said he had considered turning the Taipei International Book Exhibition into a book fair center in Southeast Asia, but the international scope of the fair depended on China’s participation and whether it chooses to liberalize its book policy.
If China cooperates, “then we have a chance to really develop the fair here [in Taipei] internationally,” Weidhaas said.
Taiwanese publishers have expressed the hope that the government will take action to boost cross-strait exchanges in the publishing industry, by reducing taxes on Taiwanese books exported to China.
In related news, Wu Nien-jen (吳念真), a noted Taiwanese film director, recently said that Taiwan should hold talks with China on intellectual property rights (IPR) protection to facilitate bilateral cultural exchange.
Cultural officials also need to consider how Taiwan’s and China’s legal systems can be better coordinated to improve the protections currently enjoyed by artists, he said.
Wu said that while Lung had outlined many proposals to boost cross-strait cultural exchanges since taking office early this year, in his view, she should focus on developing a more open and liberal climate to nurture artistic creativity.
This related specifically to two aspects of cross-strait cultural exchange, he said.
First, Lung should push for cross-strait talks on IPR protection to safeguard artists’ intellectual property rights and prevent disputes, Wu said.
Second, a mechanism should be created to ensure that legal systems in both countries are better able to protect the rights of individual artists in the event of major disputes, he said.