The Ministry of Culture has invited senior officials to reflect on and discuss a vision for Taiwan’s future and the direction of cultural policy at a national forum yesterday.
“When the children born this year reach 18, what kind of world will await them?” Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) asked as she began the cross-ministry discussion.
“How to envision our cultural policy accordingly is a question that needs our attention,” she said
Speaking of Taiwan’s aging population, National Science Council Minister Cyrus Chu (朱敬一) said government policies to close the digital divide focus mainly on digital education for children.
However, digital devices and technology are also necessary for personalized care for the elderly, with special attention needed on digital solutions ranging from long-distance care-giving to online shopping and medical aid, he said.
As Taiwan becomes an aging society, people should seize the opportunity to develop care services for the elderly and sell these services to China, Chu said.
“By the year 2030, 24.4 percent of the population will be 65 or older. In China, that number will be 16.5 percent. By 2040, the percentages will grow to 30 in Taiwan and 23.3 in China,” Chu said. “This is a rare opportunity in which we are 10 years ahead of China, and we should make the best of it.”
In response to concerns over the shrinking pool of working-age people to support elderly citizens, Chu said he was not worried about the situation because the nation’s economic structure would change over time.
“Under the OEM [original equipment manufacturer]-oriented economic structure [we have today], we need a large number of workers to support one elderly person. However, in an economic system based on innovation and creativity, fewer working-age people are needed to support one [elderly person],” he said.
With 30 years of experience fostering Taiwanese industries, Council for Economic Planning and Development Minister Yiin Chii-ming (尹啟銘) said Taiwan’s cultural and creative industries are difficult to facilitate because they are “fragmented.”
“Unlike the manufacturing industry, cultural businesses usually don’t lend themselves to mass production,” Yiin said. “They are fragmented because there are different types of industries, and they all have different models of success.”
Facing China’s rise, Yiin said there were several serious concerns about doing businesses in China, including copyright protection.
Chu agreed, adding that copyrights are even harder to enforce for cultural and creative industries than in regular manufacturing industries.
On the topic of the rural-urban divide, Minister of the Interior Lee Hung-yuan (李鴻源) said the important question was not how to distribute resources, but how to make distributions wisely.
“If Taipei has an arena and an opera house, New Taipei City (新北市) has to have the same facilities. Therefore public facilities often overlap and become redundant,” the minister said.
Lee also said institutional problems, such as rigid laws, inflexible bureaucratic systems and a lack of cooperation among ministries often kill the imaginations of public servants.
“We are tied up by laws and the system. If you try to take one step forward, you step on someone else’s turf,” he said. “Cooperation is not part of our culture.”