President Tsai takes over GACC, vows to boost Taiwan's soft power

03/09/2017 08:13 PM

Taipei, March 9 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took over as head of the Taipei-based General Association of Chinese Culture (GACC) on Thursday, outlining three missions for the organization including boosting Taiwan's cultural power and promoting cultural exchanges and cooperation with China.

Having the president double as head of the association demonstrates the importance the government attaches to cultural affairs, Tsai said in her speech to the association's congress, where she detailed three missions for the organization.

The association will have to work to enhance Taiwan's cultural power, she said. This will involve not only promoting classic artistic works but also supporting artists from the younger generation, in an effort to create an environment that nurtures culture and creativity, she said.

The second mission is to continue to promote cross-strait cultural exchanges and cooperation, Tsai said.

She noted that the association has played a significant role in cross-strait cultural exchanges over the years and expressed hope that such exchanges will continue.

Despite differences on certain issues, there remains much room for cross-strait cooperation that is mutually beneficial, Tsai said, adding that "culture is the best way to get to know each other and communicate."

Taiwan is willing to increase cross-strait mutual understanding through cultural exchanges, she said. What is more important is to expand the area of cooperation from culture to other fields that benefit both sides, she added.

The third mission is to strengthen Taiwan's international cultural exchanges, Tsai said.

Culture is one of the most powerful tools in promoting diplomacy, she said. When Taiwanese performers, musicians and artists in other fields perform well on the international stage, they showcase Taiwanese culture to the whole world.

Cultural exchanges should also be an important element in Taiwan's "New Southbound Policy," which seeks to boost exchanges with Southeast and South Asian countries, as well as New Zealand and Australia.

The key to the policy is people-to-people links and cultural links are the best way to establish closer relations between peoples, Tsai said.

She noted that Taiwan is home to many new immigrants from Southeast Asia, who contribute to cultural diversity.

Citing well-known film directors, Malaysia-born Tsai Ming-liang (蔡明亮) and Myanmar-born Taiwanese director Midi Z, Tsai said both men studied film making in Taiwan and later produced acclaimed movies.

This demonstrates that Taiwan, with its freedom, democracy and cultural diversity, can serve as an engine for cultural writing and creativity, she said.

Founded in 1967 to promote the revival of Chinese culture and to counter China's Cultural Revolution, the association was headed by the incumbent president of the Republic of China until 2010, when former Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) was elected to serve as its head.

Liu stepped down last November amid controversy surrounding the changing leadership of the organization.

At Thursday's congress, Tsai was elected to the post of association president, with Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) and political commentator Antonio Chiang (江春男) made vice heads, and writer Lin Jin-chan (林錦昌) appointed secretary-general.

(By Sophia Yeh, Sabine Cheng and Elaine Hou)ENDITEM/AW

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