Minister touts culture as part of Taiwan’s soft power


WASHINGTON–Taiwanese culture, as part of the country’s soft power, is characterized by its diversity, tolerance and openness, Culture Minister Lung Ying-tai said in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. Taiwan is culturally influenced by China and modern civil society as well as the Netherlands and Japan, which occupied Taiwan during different periods of history, Lung said.

“Taiwanese culture is a blend of diverse maritime heritage and is therefore particularly tolerant and open,” the minister said during a discussion on the issue at the National Press Club. There is no need for Taiwan to “deliberately differentiate” its culture from that of China because they are naturally different from each other due to their different patterns of development, Lung said, noting that the culture of Taiwan has been evolving and growing over past centuries.

“Culture is not something hung on the wall. It is like a river, which is always changing,” she said. In a speech on a similar theme at George Washington University a day earlier, the minister said she sees no need for Taiwan Academy to compete with China’s Confucius Institute. Lung said she considers the Confucius Institute to be an attempt by the Chinese to be reconnected with their own roots, after half a century of vilification of Confucian values.

According to Lung, there are no places in the world that can be more Confucian than Taiwan, where the traditional philosophy of Confucius has become entwined with the modern concept of liberal democracy.

“Taiwan does have a unique, albeit modest, position to offer some contribution to the global community, namely, if it’s been proven that a civil society can operate in total harmony with Confucianism,” she said.

Also on Tuesday, Lung visited the Smithsonian Institution to discuss cooperation plans with the world’s largest museum and research complex. Lung was received by Richard Kurlin, under secretary for history, art and culture. During the talks, Lung proposed sending Taiwanese students to the institution for training on artifact and paper restoration, which was readily accepted by Kurlin.

The two sides also explored the possibility of exchanging aboriginal artifacts, according to Lung.