National Press Club

Cultural 'soft power' strategy could hasten Taiwan-China reconciliation, minister says

August 30, 2012 | By Terry Hill |

Decades after losing a civil war with China, Taiwan continues to suffer cultural isolation and is deprived of its right to participate in normal world affairs, Republic of China Minister of Culture Lung Yingtai told reporters at a National Press Club Newsmaker on Aug. 29.

The island nation of 23 million people, under martial law until 1987, remains in the political shadow of mainland China. Its people feel they are treated as second-class citizens, according to Lung.

"The injury cuts very deep in (Taiwan’s) cultural psyche," Lung said. "If this is not changed, it is hard to expect reconciliation."

Admitting that there is no immediate solution, she said her mission is to improve the atmosphere between the two countries by broadening relations using Taiwan’s "soft power" of cultural diplomacy, including arts exchange programs.

An essayist and culture critic before assuming the top ministry position earlier this year, Lung is the author of “Big River, Big Sea—Untold Stories of 1949,” which features the escape of Kuomintang soldiers and their families to Taiwan. China banned discussion of the book.

She met with Smithsonian Museum officials while in Washington, exploring cooperative ideas, including underwater archaeology studies of the country’s 1100-kilometer coastline.