After months of high expectations, tour organizers confirmed over the weekend that music legend Bob Dylan would not be coming to Taiwan. In fact, he won’t be going to Hong Kong and China either, because Chinese authorities feared the political message behind some of his songs is “too sensitive.” After permission to perform in Shanghai and Beijing was denied, the promoter pulled the other dates — including Taiwan.
Once again, because of Beijing’s fear of pluralism, an entire region — including China itself — suffers the deafening silence of censorship, while free countries like Taiwan are denied the unforgettable experience of seeing the legend perform live.
This, worryingly, comes at a time when President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and his Chinese counterparts endeavor to accelerate artistic and cultural exchanges between Taiwan and China. The more this becomes reality, the more censorship could become part of our lives. Is this what Taiwanese want for themselves?
An early victim of this catastrophic drift in China’s cultural sphere of influence was the Taiwanese movie Miao Miao (渺渺), which had to be pulled from the Melbourne International Film Festival last August amid pressure by Beijing on festival organizers not to screen a film about exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer. One of the producers of Miao Miao, as it turns out, was Jet Tone Film Ltd of Hong Kong.
A similar controversy occurred over the Kadeer documentary 10 Conditions of Love when Kaohsiung planned to feature it at a movie festival. Beijing retaliated by canceling hotel reservations and tours to southern Taiwan. Organizers of the Kaohsiung film festival were undeterred by the threat and the film was shown, but this came at a cost, including the alienation of the tourism industry.
It is unfortunate that Dylan’s tour organizers (or maybe the artist himself) chose to cancel other venues after being barred from performing in Chinese cities. Aside from denying an unforgettable experience to thousands of music enthusiasts, this sends the unfortunate signal that Beijing’s dictate extends outside its borders and applies to some “greater China” artifice. Repression won, and rather than fight back by performing in the region, the great American voice of freedom and resistance chose to be silenced. In the wake of Google’s decision to pull out of the Chinese market over censorship issues, this turn of events is disappointing.
Having prevailed over Dylan, there is no knowing what else Beijing will consider “too sensitive” in the arts, which could leave us with a depleted palette of artists whose work is deemed acceptable by Beijing. True art risks being sacrificed, to be replaced by the safe, albeit inane, would-be artists that populate the airwaves nowadays.
For the sake of artistic integrity, freedom and liberty, Dylan should come to Taiwan, where there is no doubt the legend would receive a welcome worthy of his status.
As Dylan put it: “Come senators, congressmen / Please heed the call / Don’t stand in the doorway / Don’t block up the hall / For he that gets hurt / Will be he who has stalled / There’s a battle outside / And it’s ragin’.”
The battle is raging and people who cherish their freedoms can’t afford to stall. There’s a battle outside, and oh, could only the great Bob Dylan heed the call.
Over the past few decades, only judges have been the triers of fact and law in Taiwan’s judiciary. Nevertheless, ordinary people are from next year to have the opportunity to be take on that role in criminal cases, a milestone in Taiwan’s history. The Citizen Judges Act (國民法官法) was passed by the Legislative Yuan on July 22, promulgated by the president on Aug. 12 and is to be implemented on Jan. 1 next year. Under the act, lay people are to be randomly selected as citizen judges who would participate in trial proceedings and adjudicate cases alongside professional judges in
Reports that Taiwan’s semiconductor industry could be considering leaving the country amid rising geopolitical tensions, and in light of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co’s (TSMC) plans to build factories in the US and Japan, were dismissed last week by Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花). Wang said that Taiwan has an important chip manufacturing cluster, its capabilities are second to none and no other country could displace Taiwan’s dominance in semiconductors. Wang also downplayed concerns that a number of TSMC engineers relocating to the US for the company’s new plant in Phoenix, Arizona, would lead to talent shortages or a loss
As all are aware by now, United States policy toward Taiwan is guided by three canonical texts: the Taiwan Relations Act, the Three Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances. But the State Department now seems to be working with a fourth document which goes by the bland name of “state telegram number 87604” of June 26, 2007, regarding “UN references to Taiwan.” Long dormant, “07 State 87604” seems to have been rediscovered at State Department headquarters in Foggy Bottom. I doubt it will ever be enshrined with the three holy texts, but it now seems to influence American diplomacy toward
India-Taiwan relations are at their strongest in history. The growing bonhomie between New Delhi and Taipei is a testimony to India’s increasing interests and stakes in Taiwan. Its keenness to engage Taiwan is noticeable. Early last month, Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Chen Chern-chyi (陳正祺) visited India, achieving several tangible outcomes. He was in India to participate in the annual deputy ministerial dialogue. He also addressed the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s India-Taiwan Industrial Collaboration Summit. His visit was well-received by the Indian government as well as by industry leaders. “India can be the best production place for us.