Taiwan is like a tiny motorboat while China is a huge aircraft carrier, Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) told an audience in Washington on Tuesday.
“We need to be cautious, we need wisdom ... to avoid a collision. Communication is essential and I call for empathy on both sides of the Strait,” she said during a talk at George Washington University during an event cosponsored by the Brookings Institution.
Lung said China was the product of half a century of upheaval and that its government had “a lot of catching-up to do.”
Taiwan needed to be patient and give the aircraft carrier time to turn around, she said.
Lung added that China had to understand that Taiwanese need freedom to “write what we think, paint what we see, sing [about] what moves us, tolerate those who disagree, protect those who are unjustly persecuted and reject leaders we mistrust.”
Lung has been in New York and will visit Canada later in the week.
Her talk was titled “Soft Power in a Hard Time: A Cultural Perspective on Cross-Strait Relations.”
She said that as the idea of soft power grows, emphasis should be placed on the word “soft” rather than on “power.”
Lung said that exercising soft power meant being “genuinely and honestly ‘soft’ when dealing with people outside and inside your territory.”
She defined this softness as “listening to the whimper of the weak, seeing the tears of those who suffer and hearing the suppressed cry of protest.”
However, Lung was reluctant to get into details about certain issues.
She refused to answer — or carefully avoided — questions about China policies, about the growing Chinese influence on the Taiwanese media or about the role of former president Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) during the White Terror era.
Pressed on the media issue, she said: “I don’t think I should delve into domestic issues in Taiwan. I think Taiwanese have a difficult problem: Can we draw a line between getting healthy influences from China, and [protecting] our national security?”
“Figuring out how to draw that line takes a lot of wisdom,” she added.
One student responded to Lung, saying “Chiang’s role during the White Terror era is not an ideological issue, it is an historical fact.”
He asked how Lung not blaming Chiang was different from those who denied that the White Terror happened.
Lung answered that the Taiwan Human Rights Museum — under the control of her ministry — was currently collecting testimony from victims of the White Terror era.
She said the museum’s budget had recently been awarded and she had decided that the most urgent thing on the agenda was collecting the testimony of White Terror survivors while they were still alive.
Asked about Taiwanese Aborigines, she said they were “very much marginalized,” despite major government efforts to help them.
She said that she was shocked that Aborigines had a significantly shorter life expectancy than other Taiwanese.
Lung said Confucius had become the standard-bearer of Chinese soft power and that no place was more Confucian than Taiwan.
China’s Confucius Institutes, she said, were an attempt to reconnect with the nation’s roots.
“After half a century of vilification, old values are being relearned,” Lung said.
The Taiwan Academy, she said, should not compete with the Confucian Institutes.
“China is so big, so ancient, so grand and resilient … and we dare to hope that China some day will become a [more] civilized as well as a civil society,” Lung said.
One audience member said that she sounded almost as if she was a minister from China.
Lung replied that if that was true she would be in “deep trouble” when she returned to Taiwan.
“But we can’t just demonize China as a threat,” she said.
Even if China is the enemy, Taiwan has to understand China in order to deal with it, she said.
FATAL FIRE: The health department is trying to contact the inspector who visited the site of the illegal nursing home to ask why they did not advise follow-up checks The Taipei City Government yesterday said that a health department inspector last year had visited the site of a long-term care facility in Neihu District (內湖) after receiving a report questioning its status. A fire broke out at the facility on Tuesday afternoon, killing three people. The Taipei Fire Department said that it received a report about a fire on the first floor of a four-story residential building on Kangning Road Sec. 1 at 2:38pm on Tuesday, firefighters arrived at 2:43pm and the fire was put out by 3:07pm. The firefighters found three men in beds and rushed them to hospital for
Taipei City Councilor Wang Hao (王浩) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Monday called for security improvements to the MRT, as fare evasion has increased more than 13-fold on the metropolitan railway system over the past five years. Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) has spoken out against fare evasion and other contraventions of MRT regulations, but since he took office in 2015 the number of contraventions has more than doubled, Wang said, adding that there were 537 cases in 2015 compared with 959 last year. A video was posted to YouTube in June showing people how to evade paying a fare,
FEELING MISUNDERSTOOD: Media speculation has fueled confusion about the KMT’s reasons for skipping a Chinese forum and delaying an AIT meeting, party sources said The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Sunday said that it is not seeking to improve relations with the US or China at the expense of the other, and that its relations with the countries would be topic-based. The party has faced questions over its foreign policy after it on Monday last week announced its withdrawal from the annual Straits Forum and delayed planned talks with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). The party has also taken a tough stance on the importation of US meat containing ractopamine, while also lambasting China for increasing its military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait. Following
Yuchi Township (魚池) fishers have appealed to the Nantou County Government for help in dealing with an invasive fish species in Sun Moon Lake (日月潭), where it has devastated the local ecosystem. Fishers at Sun Moon Lake have been using electrofishing in an attempt to eliminate the giant snakehead fish — found in Africa and Southeast Asia — but they have struggled to keep up with the growing population of the species, which breeds during September and October, the county government said on Monday. The county has contacted researchers at National Tsing Hua University, saying it hoped they could come up