News / Asia

As China Ties Grow Closer, Taiwan Seeks Own Spotlight

A dancer adorned with flowers performs during Taiwan's National Day celebrations in front of the Presidential Office in Taipei, October 10, 2012.
A dancer adorned with flowers performs during Taiwan's National Day celebrations in front of the Presidential Office in Taipei, October 10, 2012.
Ralph Jennings
China is edging economically closer to Taiwan, but that does not mean the island’s people are embracing the mainland. Taiwanese pride themselves on a separate cultural identity from China, despite their common ethnic roots.

Individuality 

This month, a cultural fair in Hong Kong will promote Taiwan’s independent booksellers and filmmakers. But this is not a tourism event. Lee Ying-ping - director of the Kwang Hua Information and Culture Center under Taiwan’s government office in Hong Kong - says Taiwan needs the 40 cultural exhibits to make a lasting impression on territory already controlled by Beijing. She calls Taiwan’s culture a source of soft power.

Lee says Taiwan’s soft power, accumulated in the past few decades, has surpassed its politics and economy as an advantage worth using and a language for dialogue.  She says many Hong Kong people find this aspect of Taiwan to be among its most interesting.

The effort in Hong Kong, a former British colony, is part of the Taiwan government’s four-year soft power plan. Knowing that China is bigger militarily and economically, Taiwan is looking for more global influence by showing off features, such as independent film and books - things that China cannot claim.

Analysts call this push part of a wider move to prove to the world and to itself, that Taiwan differs from China. Hsu Yung-ming, assistant political science professor at Soochow University in Taipei, points to an identity crisis that has generated debate in the local media and bridged party lines.

He sees a social sense of crisis, that is a worry that Taiwan will be sucked into a bigger political or economic entity and lose its separate identity - even be marginalized. Hsu says that no single government agency is pushing to solve the problem. He calls it a collective sense of crisis that bridges competing local political camps.

Rapprochement

Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou raises his fist after giving a speech during National Day celebrations in front of the presidential office in Taipei October 10, 2012.
Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou raises his fist after giving a speech during National Day celebrations in front of the presidential office in Taipei October 10, 2012.
Both major Taiwanese political parties agree Taiwan needs to form closer economic, trade and investment ties with China’s $7 trillion economy. Leaders in Beijing have signed 18 deals with Taipei since 2008, with more on the way. China is also pushing for talks that would lead toward closer political ties.

China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since the Chinese civil war of the 1940s.  The two sides have been separately ruled since then. Taiwan’s two main parties support continuing to stand apart from China.

Opinion polls also indicate that more people are worrying about Taiwan’s relations with China. A National Chengchi University survey released this year found that 45 percent of Taiwanese think the pace of China-Taiwan exchanges is just right, compared to 33 percent who say it’s too fast.

“For military and diplomatic [ties], more people consider that cross-Strait relations have been very tense. The average is about 70 percent say it’s very tense on the diplomatic front," says Alexander Huang, a strategic studies professor at Tamkang University in Taipei.

International recognition

Yani Tseng of Taiwan hits her tee shot on the second hole during the second round of the British Women's Open Golf tournament at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, northern England, September 15, 2012.
Yani Tseng of Taiwan hits her tee shot on the second hole during the second round of the British Women's Open Golf tournament at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, northern England, September 15, 2012.
Taiwan has long supported an active international relations effort to combat China’s block on Taiwan’s bid to join the United Nations. This includes overseas humanitarian and development aid that goes far beyond helping Taiwan’s own allies.

Although these efforts are ongoing, many people in Taiwan are heartened more by events where their fellow citizens impress an international crowd. Athletes such as world's top-ranked female golfer, Yani Tseng, and National Basketball Association star Jeremy Lin, whose parents are Taiwanese, are revered.

For Huang Chia-fu, 21, a student at National Cheng Chi University in Taipei, it’s the informal recognition that counts.

He says it has gotten to a point where Taiwan finds it hard to promote itself in settings where China also participates. He says it may take other means to raise the island’s profile. He points to a local team’s top finish in a League of Legends PC game tournament in Los Angeles, earlier this month, as a show that Taiwan is a place that is not the same as China.

Beijing is still pushing for Taiwanese to embrace their Chinese roots, pointing to their common heritage as a reason to reunify politically.  Two years ago, China asked Taiwan to sign an agreement that would direct the two sides to develop a joint culture and mingle their creative industries.

But Taiwan’s cultural minister said in August that the deal is off for now, leaving the island’s civil society to form links, on its own, with China.

You May Like

As US Strikes Syria, China Sees Parallels at Home

Beijing is debating how much support to give international coalition against IS militants and trying to figure out how many Chinese nationals may have joined group overseas More

CDC: Ebola Could Infect 1.4 Million by January

US health officials say if efforts to curb the outbreak are not increased, cases will soar dramatically by early next year More

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in 5 Countries

US Agency for International Development partners with celebrities to call attention to importance of education for girls worldwide More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Zhang from: Chengdu,China
October 30, 2012 9:23 PM
台湾是中国不可分割的一部分,统一只是一个时间问题!Taiwan is a inpartible part of china!we are CHINESE!AMERICANS,TAKE CARE!

In Response

by: Julius from: Taipei, Taiwan
November 17, 2012 11:00 PM
Sometimes it's the sense of counrty belonging. Even Hong Kong belongs to China now. You rarely heard HK people say they come from China ╮(︶︿︶)╭. Most people in Taiwan think we are Taiwanese, not Chinese.

In Response

by: Richard from: Taiwan
November 10, 2012 3:19 AM
We are Taiwanese. We are proud of our country, Taiwan. Unlike China, Taiwan is the most democratic country in Asia. We enjoy our freedom. These two countries are totally different from each other.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid