[This is an article taken from a Chinese newspaper and translated into English by Terry. He follows it with his own opinions about the problem.]
Cultural tourism looks like the only method that can help backward countries snatch patients from the jaws of death. When we speak of culture, the country’s delicious foods, the country’s special holiday activities and the country’s special traditional clothes will appear in our minds. Though not so important before, now we think of culture as the things that are characteristic or unique in the country. We no longer think that the country’s spirit is the focal point of culture. Now culture is simply equal to the characteristic things: it’s not the spirit of the country.
When we present culture in Taiwan to foreigners, we make big mistakes. We want to show we have a good culture that can attract tourists, so we counterfeit many foreign things. We try to imitate foreign things that Taiwan doesn’t really have. And the record shows that tourists don’t like this kind of counterfeit culture. They want to see Taiwan’s true culture, even if it’s betel nut girls or eating snake. They want the real thing.
Since Taiwan hasn’t had a long history, we can’t present the kind of cultural glories that some other country’s have. Only a few of our buildings have any historical value. This is why we can’t present a strong historical culture. When we were colonized by Japan, we wanted to have our own culture, different from the Japanese, and we protested about this. But now many people protest that they want to preserve the culture of the Japanese occupation period. They admire the culture the Japanese valued in Taiwan. This, they think, is the “true Taiwanese culture.” It’s quite ironic. Finally we get no applause for ourselves, and often we still hear about how “Japan can do it, but we can’t.”
If we want to improve this phenomenon in Taiwan, we need to show our true culture and history. We need finally to accept taking the best from Taiwan’s culture and from other countries’ cultures too. In any case, our cultural environment changes very quickly. What trends are dominant in our culture can change very soon. If we want tourists to appreciate Taiwan, we must accept what we are and make the best of it.
The culture in Taiwan really is a mixture. Of course the first people here were the aborigines, and their culture is very important to Taiwan. The second people here came from China in the last few hundred years. Now this group has the most population.
I agree with the writer half-half. I think the people in Taiwan need to agree on a true Taiwanese culture. This is important to allow us to study about our history and also to allow us to present Taiwan to others. And the culture in Taiwan has mixed many things together: from the aborigines, the Chinese, the Japanese and the Western countries.
But I don’t agree with the writer’s main idea that the important thing about culture is to attract tourists. Instead I think the spirit of the country is more important. I think education in Taiwan is more important than attracting tourists.
Compared to Japan or China, we don’t make many movies. I think the government should help Taiwan to make better movies. Good movies can show foreigners what Taiwan is like. We do have our own writers and our own music. But Taiwan is a small country. We just keep doing our best. --Terry Lu
Email: Terry Lu
This page is at http://www.necessaryprose.com/