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

Unpaid Kurdish Fighters Sign of Economic Woes

Sharp cuts in Kurdistan's budget by Baghdad, falling oil revenue, coping with refugees, inflated public sector have hit regional economy hard More

Koreas Exchange List of Envoys for Family Reunion Talks

Officials will discuss date, venue and number of participants for reunion; Seoul hopes to hold event late this month More

China Targets 197 in Online Speech Crackdown

Nearly 200 punished for 'spreading rumors' online in ongoing crackdown on free speech 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.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

VOA Blogs