Beijing should learn to be humble and keep an open mind to win the trust of Taiwanese, Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) said in a recent interview.
Taiwan’s freedom and democracy are rare, precious and fragile and there is a strong consensus in the nation that this fragile freedom needs to be protected from a superpower like Beijing, Lung told the Chinese-language weekly, Yazhou Zhoukan.
“I believe that as a political superpower, the mainland [China] should be more generous and open-minded in exchanges across the Taiwan Strait,” she said in the interview, which was the cover story of the Hong Kong-based weekly’s latest edition.
“As for Taiwan, because the freedom it has is so precious, it is important to face, to engage with, to get to know, and to negotiate with people toward whom you might feel enmity and distrust,” Lung said.
If there is no trust, it is impossible to talk about peace, she said.
Despite the increase in cultural exchanges across the Taiwan Strait, it is still too early for the nation to consider signing a cultural agreement with Beijing, she said.
Lung also responded to the controversy surrounding the opening of Taiwan’s printing sector to China under the cross-strait service trade agreement.
“I understand the unease among people in the cultural arena. As long as the mainland maintains its censorship, Taiwanese people will not be able to trust Beijing,” she said.
On the issue of opening up the printing sector, Lung said Taiwan has an effective mechanism in place to regulate foreign investment, and a deputy culture minister will sit on the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Investment Commission to review investment applications under the latest government plan.
Lung said it was regrettable that a strong sense of unease over China exists in Taiwan, which leaves little room for rational discussions and will eventually hurt the people of Taiwan.
She also talked about Hong Kong, where she taught as a guest professor at universities between 2003 and 2008, saying that people in Hong Kong, as well as in Taiwan, who live in the shadow of fear should overcome their emotions and face reality with serenity.
Lung said she believes there are open-minded people among decisionmakers in Beijing and the real strength of a superpower like China lies in knowing how to be humble.
“For our generation, true peace in our world is finding a way for those who experienced and still remember the civil war to develop mutual trust and sincere empathy,” she said.