The relations between China and Taiwan have been quite contradictory, which is a characteristics feature of all neighboring states. Taiwan appeared in “the Chinese cultural orbit” in the 16th century and became an administrative unit of China in 1689, but it was ruled “with a light hand” (Bush, 2013, p. 9). At the end of the 19th century, however, China decided to strengthen its power in Taiwan to keep its territories safe from France and Japan (which was rising at that period). In the 1890s, the war between China and Japan results in the Chinese defeat, and Taiwan became the Japanese colony. The Japanese rule was significantly stricter, and during the war, Japan used Taiwanese resources.
specifically for you
for only $16.05 $11/page
After World War II, Taiwan was returned under the Chines rule. However, the Civil War in China led to a new type of relations between China and Taiwan. Chiang’s regime had to flee to Taiwan as Mao Zedong’s army was defeating the enemy in the mainland. Bush (2013, p. 10) stresses that the North Korean troops’ invasion of South Korea “saved Taiwan from a communist takeover.” The two republics, the People’s Republic of China (the mainland under the Communist rule) and the Republic of China (Taiwan supported by the USA) became rivals as both states argued they were genuine Chinese government that had the right to represent China.
The two states were supported by two superpowers, and, hence, their ideological platforms differed greatly, which was another reason for the rivalry. Beijing could not take over Taipei using military force and hoped the state would not be recognized in the global arena. Taipei struggled for recognition and complete independence and even maximum alienation from the mainland. The official relations between the two states were not established. Then things started changing, to a certain extent, in the 1980s.
This collaboration led to more relaxed relations between the two states. Beijing and Taipei even tried to discuss the issues related to legacy. The primary issue, which was associated with the concept of One China, was resolved in 1992 (Su, 2008). The so-called 1992 Consensus resulted in the acceptance of the principle of One China, which holds it that the states accept the term ‘One China’ but have the right to interpret it following their political, social, cultural and so on agendas. This compromise can be regarded as an instrument associated with the soft power use.
It is necessary to define the term ‘soft power’ to ensure that it can be applied when considering the relations between China and Taiwan. Nye (2005, p. x) defines soft power as “the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payments”. The author adds that it “arises from the attractiveness of a country’s culture, political ideals, and policies” (Nye, 2005, p. x). Therefore, in many cases, the state does not have to use its military force to exercise power over another state. It is sufficient to use soft power to be able to control another nation.
Importantly, Nye (2005) stresses that to be able to use soft power (as well as the military force), it is crucial to understand the outcomes to be received and the resources available. China failed to set clear goals and estimate the resources available for Taipei as well as its resources. The use of the military force and the attempts to bring the state to complete isolation failed, and Beijing launched a new strategy.
Taiwan Public Opinion
It is necessary to note that public opinion in Taiwan underwent certain changes during the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century. It is necessary to note that the Taiwanese identity started prevailing only in the mid-1990s, and this prevalence was rather insignificant (Su, 2008). At that, 40% of Taiwanese people associated themselves with Chinese while slightly more than 40% emphasized their Taiwanese identity (Su, 2008).
100% original paper
on any topic
done in as little as
At that, when it comes to the reunification issue, the Taiwanese also had quite different views, and 50-60% supported the idea of maintaining the status quo in the 1990s. The situation has only slightly changed since then. Su (2008) states that the dichotomy between the heart and the head of Taiwanese people construct this attitude towards the relations between the two states. The hearts of people are full of Taiwanese features while the heads understand that the ties between the two countries are too strong and too important for the well-being of the two nations.
As has been mentioned above, the two states had different ideological backgrounds, which defined the Taiwanese public opinion. Taipei focuses on the democratic model and capitalist economic approaches that are very different from the Chinese overwhelming control over all aspects of people’s lives (Cabestan, 2011). Such authoritarian policies create a negative image in Taiwanese people’s minds.
Such events as the governmental response to Tiananmen Square protests that took place in 1989 made the reunification nearly impossible (Su, 2008). At the same time, economic links are often regarded as the ground for the development of closer cross-strait relations since both states are Asian tigers whose economic development has been unprecedented. Policies aimed at liberalization of the business practices and globalization also affect the development of public opinion in Taiwan. The Taiwanese are eager to increase collaboration with Chinese business people to achieve the country’s economic goals (Su, 2008).
Cultural ties are even closer as the two states share one heritage. Pellatt, Liu, and Chen (2014) stress that the language, art, religion and the very mindsets of the Taiwanese and Chinese are very similar. More so, both states claim their right to be regarded as the representative of China. The cultural heritage makes the issues associated with identity as well as cross-strait relations even more complicated as people share a lot in common, but have different views when it comes to quite fundamental aspects. Therefore, the Chinese use of soft power is deeply rooted in the cultural background. It is possible to note that the Chinese resort to cultural diplomacy to achieve their goals as regards cross-strait relations.
First, it is important to define the term. Cultural diplomacy can be defined as the “exchange of ideas. Information, art, and other aspects of culture among nations and their peoples to foster mutual understanding” (as cited in Kitsou, 2013, p. 22). It has been acknowledged that cultural diplomacy is never primary in international relations, but it often facilitates the development of closer ties and proper relations between nations. The USA used this approach during the cold war to make its ideological agenda closer to people across the globe (Gienow-Hecht & Donfried, 2013).
Gienow-Hecht and Donfried (2013) identify two major types of cultural diplomacy: conceptual and structural. When it comes to the structural approach, the “setup of cultural diplomacy” is in focus (Gienow-Hecht & Donfried, 2013, p. 17). Cultural collaboration is shaped by particular groups’ self-interest. For example, during the 16th century, English rich families sent young people to study in France as this was a way to enter the political sphere.
French cultural influence spread via young generations. The conceptual approach implies the focus on the motivations and the goals set. Thus, Jesuit expansion in Asia in the 16th century can be regarded as an example of a conceptual approach as the goal was to eliminate Asian xenophobia through aligning Asian with Western values (Gienow-Hecht & Donfried, 2013). One of the most recent examples of the successful use of cultural diplomacy is the so-called Korean wave.
The Korean wave is the “infectious” spread of South Korean culture in the world (Lee, 2011, p. 85). It began in Asia in 1990 and spread all over the world since then. The Korean wave can be illustrated as a cultural expansion as Korean films, TV series, and music became very popular across the globe. People from all over the world opened up South Korea and Korean culture through the lens of pop culture. Lee (2011) states that the influence of the Korean wave is the most remarkable in China where people developed a sense of understanding the Korean culture without being to the country.
The first Korean drama that gained significant popularity (or even obsession) in Asian and later the entire world was the drama Star in My Heart (1997). It was especially popular in China and Japan. K-dramas became extremely popular in the mid-2000s, which fostered an interest in Korean music as well. Soundtracks to Korean films were very popular, and people all over the region (and later, the globe) developed an interest in Korean music (Desideri, 2013). Korean pop bands and performers recorded their songs in Mandarin and Japanese. This attracted more and more fans. The Korean wave had particular economic benefits for South Korea as 10 million tourists across the globe visited the country in 2011 (Desideri, 2013). The Korean market also grew considerably.
Nonetheless, apart from economic benefits, the Korean wave had numerous political or rather geopolitical implications for South Korea. The country managed to improve its image significantly and become known to the entire world. Korean is seen as “an attractive ideal” for other Asian countries (Desideri, 2013, p. 53). This favorable image is instrumental in the development of relations in all aspects including political, economic, cultural and so on. The improved image of the country is also a good ground for exercising soft power.
2004-2008: Chen Administration
It is necessary to note that the use of Chinese soft power had quite a different effect on the development of cross-strait relations, which could be explained by different political agendas. It is important to evaluate the development of Taipei in the mid-2000s to understand the way China exercises soft power in this state. Chen Shui-bian was the president of the Republic of China between 2004 and 2008. This politician shared the pro-independence perspective and advocated the complete independence of Taiwan (Pellatt et al., 2014). Chen also promoted the idea of holding a referendum to provide the citizens of the Republic of China an opportunity to take their stand and voice their opinion concerning their future.
Chen saw the state as a completely independent entity that would be accepted in the global arena under the name Taiwan (Bush, 2013). President Chen tended to stress that the 1992 Consensus could not be the ground for the relations between the two states (Su, 2008). Chen believed that the document and the very idea of the relations based on the principle of One China were dangerous for the development of Taiwan.
Importantly, the Chinese government saw Chen as a serious threat to the reunification of China and did not want to support Chen’s administration in any endeavor including the development of cross-strait relations (Bush, 2013). It is necessary to note that Chen did not have the support of the vast majority of the Taiwanese, and the Chinese hoped that his administration will soon fail, and a new president will be a more appropriate figure to develop the relations between the two state that would eventually lead to the reunification. At the same time, Chen visited China in 2005, and the principles of One China were discussed.
Alongside with these discussions, the leaders of the two states agreed to launch some economic and cultural projects. The visit was seen as controversial in Taiwan as the Taiwanese suspected the Chinese and feared that the Chen administration agreed to accept the principle of One China and the interpretation of Beijing. Perhaps, the Chinese leaders wanted to achieve such goals and reduce the number of Chen’s supporters through such controversial collaboration and discussions.
This period was one of the most difficult in the history of the cross-strait relations as the two parties were not ready to compromise. This was the time when China declared its preparedness to use force if the political methods would not be effective (Su, 2008). Taipei, in its turn, regarded such statements as a way to intimidate the state and make Taiwanese leaders follow the Chinese recommendations on the further development of the relations between the two states. There were fears that China could use the military force in the Taiwanese society.
100% original paper
written from scratch
specifically for you?
The relations between the two states were specifically tense as the Chinese government was disappointed because of the reelection of Chen. They decided to block Taiwan independence in various ways (Bush, 2013). These ways were stipulated during the National People’s Congress in 2005. It was stressed that political, economic and cultural collaboration would improve if the Taiwanese officials would abandon their separatist perspectives (Bush, 2013).
It is necessary to note that Taipei also faced numerous economic and social issues at that period. Taiwanese business people tried to affect the political elite and make it be more open to the collaboration with the Chinese administration as business ties were becoming significantly closer. Clearly, Chen was unable to satisfy the needs and expectation of the Taiwanese, who were afraid that his administration could betray them.
2008-2016: Ma Administration
Chen lost the election in 2008, and Ma Ying-jeou became the president of the country. Ma had quite a different perspective on the future of Taiwan. He saw Taiwan as well as the mainland as one and the same Chinese nation that was divided geographically and politically (Bush, 2013). The politician stressed that the two states shared the Chinese heritage; and, hence, the collaboration between Beijing and Taipei was crucial. At the same time, Ma was the advocate of the maintenance of the status quo between the two states. This paradigm was seen positively in the Taiwanese society as people were reluctant to endure hazards associated with the struggle for the complete independence and international recognition.
It is necessary to note that Ma’s position was definite, and he articulated the idea of no independence, no unification and no utilization of force (Cabestan, 2011). The Taiwanese President visited Beijing, and the officials touched upon the 1992 Consensus, Ma’s position was clear. He believed that there could be one China only, but he also emphasized the need to give the states an opportunity to interpret the concept according to their wants and beliefs.
This position could not fully satisfy the Chinese government, but Ma’s desire to maintain the status quo was significantly better than Chen’s focus on the complete independence (Wei, 2012). The years of Ma’s presidency can be regarded as the ground of the Chinese use of the concept of soft power. During that period, Chinese and Taiwanese officials launched numerous economic projects that were beneficial for both states.
These projects included “15 bilateral agreements and one declaration on direct commercial air and sea links” as well as “a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on financial supervision” (Lin, 2013, p. 37). Ma advocated the establishment of closer cultural ties due to the common heritage. These factors contributed to the creation of the necessary background for the China’s successful utilization of soft power.
As far as the economic collaboration is concerned, it resulted in the preferential trade agreement (referred to as ECFA) that heavily relied on the principle of an “early harvest program” (as cited in Lin, 2013, p. 37). This agreement involved the reduction of tariffs on more than 500 Taiwanese products during six months and the elimination of tariffs on the rest of the goods within the following two years. The Chinese government also opened 11 sectors of services to Taiwanese service providers.
At the same time, Taiwanese government reduced tariffs on more than 250 goods from China. Nine service sectors were open to Chinese companies. Importantly, the countries opened their financial markets to each other, which contributed to the development of the economies of Beijing and Taipei. Chinese business people started investing heavily in Taiwanese companies. This was a mutually beneficial collaboration as the two states managed to address some economic issues that arose due to the world financial crisis as well as the overall slowdown in the economic growth of Taipei and Beijing.
More importantly, this was the period of the improved cross-strait movement of people that led to the cultural exchange that has had quite a controversial effect on the development of the cross-strait relations and people’s attitudes towards them. The closer economic collaboration resulted in a significant movement of business people. Numerous investors, entrepreneurs and business people from mainland China started visiting Taiwan to set up businesses or develop closer relationships with the local partners. The government encouraged any economic, financial, and cultural collaboration.
Thus, in 2010, the Taiwanese government passed a law concerning the recognition of a number of Chinese universities’ degrees (Chen, 2015). The number of the recognized universities tripled (up to 129) between 2010 and 2014 (Chen, 2015). This led to a significant students’ exchange. Thus, Taiwanese accepted Chinese seekers of degrees while Taiwanese students also went to the mainland in their pursuit of their educational goals. The number of Chinese tourists in Taiwan also increased significantly. The daily quotas were gradually increased up to 5,000 visitors (Chen, 2015). Taiwanese people were also able to travel to the mainland China.
On the one hand, such visits facilitated the development of more harmonious relations between the people as they could learn more about each other’s traditions, beliefs, rituals, fears and hopes. These interactions also helped people understand that they shared a lot in common. On the other hand, such interactions, especially when it came to the economic sector, contributed to the development of quite a negative viewpoint on the collaboration between Beijing and Taipei. The slowdown in the economic growth in Taiwan led to the development of rather negative sentiments concerning the cross-strait relations in the Taiwanese society (Strained circumstances, 2015).
For instance, the so-called Sunflower movement or the Anti-Trade Pact Movement was the result of the negative sentiment facilitated by the discussions in the Taiwanese media (Chen, 2015). Students were the primary force of the movement that focused on the negative side of the cross-strait relations or even Taiwanese people’s fears related to the closer (Weidong, 2015). People protested as they believed that the closer economic relations were equal to deeper economic integration into the Chinese economy, which, as seen by many Taiwanese citizens, could lead to the loss of the Taiwanese independence or even identity (Chen, 2015). The movement had quite a considerable effect on the Taiwanese people’s minds as many started sharing similar views.
The Rise of the Chinese Soft Power
Strengthening of the Cultural Diplomacy
The rise of the Chinese soft power is associated with the President Hu Jintao, who occupied this post between 2003 and 2013 and was the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party between 2004 and 2012 (Bush, 2013). Hu Jintao was an advocate of the peaceful development of his country, and the relations with Taiwan were also based on such principles. Hu promoted the ideas of the reunification of the mainland and Taiwan.
Notably, the relations between Beijing and Taipei were rather tense (or rather non-existent) during the presidency of Chen Shui-bian, who supported the idea of the de jure independence of Taiwan. Hu’s administration relied on the hard power during that period. However, when Ma Ying-jeou succeeded Chen, the Chinese ruling elite started focusing on the use of the soft power. In 2008, the leaders of Taipei and China met during several international conferences where they stressed the need to adhere to the 1992 Consensus principles. Later, Hu undertook numerous steps to foster the development of cross-strait relations.
For instance, in 2009, President Hu gave a speech where he made a 6-point proposal. This proposal included a firm adherence to the principle of One China, strengthening of commercial links, “negotiating a peace agreement,” the promotion of people exchange, the focus on common cultural links, “allowing Taiwan “reasonable” participation in global organizations” (as cited in Chan, 2013, p. 100). For instance, Taiwan became a member of the WTO in a “special membership category,” which positively affected its economic growth and had great meaning for the Taiwanese, who had the sense of independence (Tok, 2013, p. 22). The proposal was a significant stride as the two states agreed on some of the basic principles to focus on when developing cross-strait relations.
Chan (2013) stresses that the principle of Taiwan’s ‘reasonable’ participation in international organization was the most illustrative point. On the one hand, Beijing accepted the right of Taipei to undertake some steps in the international arena. On the other hand, Beijing reserved the right to decide what steps could be undertaken. In other words, Hu declared a significant freedom of Taipei, but this freedom was within the scope of the mainland’s political agenda.
Hu Jintao’s approach to the cross-strait relations resulted in various agreements including some declarations associated with the military sphere. For instance, instead of intimidation (which was used prior to 2007), Beijing declared its position in the white paper on defense in 2011 emphasizing that the two states should strengthen or rather start the collaboration in the military sphere in order to be able to respond to any threats and challenges that might occur (Chan, 2013). This commitment to cooperation and mutual assistance is another illustration of the use of the soft power.
At the same time, the soft power utilization is manifested in the Chinese leaderships’ use of the cultural diplomacy. One of the examples of the use of soft power is the emphasis on the Chinese economic development in the Chinese and Taiwanese media. The ‘Chinese model’ has been promoted globally, and many officials are trying to apply the model to their countries. Taiwan is no exception as it has witnessed the Chinese success and rise in the global arena. Clearly media play an important role in the promotion of the Chinese model.
As has been mentioned above, the exchange of students, as well as personnel, increased significantly between 2008 and 2016. Clearly, the interaction of scholars and students in both states has been significant since then, which has been a part of the cultural diplomacy. Thus, Chinese scholars in Chinese “core” journals promoted the ideas of common heritage, peaceful development, interaction and collaboration as well as the need to develop closer ties to respond to the westernization of the Asian world (as cited in Tok, 2013, p. 67). For example, Rawnsley (2014) stresses that the focus on culture (the cultural heritage, which is shared with the mainland) is the only way for Taiwan to gain the international recognition.
The cross-strait movement of people also contributes to the promotion of the Chinese model of economic success. Social networks play an important role in this process as well (Pellatt et al., 2014). People share views on the life in the two states, and the image of success is created. Notably, the users of social networks are mainly young generations who study in the universities where the influence of the Chinese political elite is apparent. The views concerning the need to resist the spread of western values have been promoted through academic works as well as communication through social media.
Another influential tool of the soft power used by Chinese elite is religion and tradition. Confucianism, Maoism, and other paradigms serve as the ground for the development of closer ties between the two states. As has been mentioned above, the recognition of Chinese degrees has fostered the student and personnel exchange. It also led to the opening of numerous schools whose vision was deeply rooted in Confucianism (Tok, 2013). These schools also promote the ideas of unification and resistance to the spread of western values.
Importantly, the shared heritage is also used as an instrument of soft power. For instance, exhibitions of the Palace Museum (Beijing) were held in Taipei (Sui, 2010). Taiwanese visitors could see numerous items of the imperial collection of treasures. More so, various Chinese provinces often visit Taiwan to share their traditions. For instance, performances of Shaolin Temple monks were very popular in Taiwan (Sui, 2010). Shanghai Symphony Orchestra has given several concerts that received positive reviews, and Taiwanese viewers were fascinated and often wanted to know more about the mainland culture and traditions. These exhibitions and performances have had a considerable effect on Taiwanese people, especially people of art. Thus, Taiwanese designers, as well as people of other professions, often become inspired by the Chinese traditions that are seen as the long-forgotten cultural heritage to revive.
Investment in the Entertainment Industry
An important instrument of the soft power approach is the use of the entertainment industry. Some of the examples of the role of the entertainment industry in the cultural diplomacy have been provided above. The Korean Wave and the influence of the Hollywood are some of the most conspicuous illustrations. Thus, the western way of life and values have been largely spread throughout the products of the entertainment industry. Films, pop music, TV series, as well as many other products, become the channels of the transmission of ideas, values, lifestyles and so on.
The Chinese leadership acknowledged the power of the entertainment and its role in the successful use of the soft power. The Chinese entertainment industry is one of the most rapidly developing sectors of the country’s economy.
It has shown a constant growth (17% annually) since 2010 (China’s film industry, 2016). This growth is especially remarkable as other sectors of the country’s economy are stagnating. Movie ticket sales in the country are the second highest in the world after the US sales. The Chinese box office revenue in 2015 was more than $6.5 billion. The Chinese are willing to watch Hollywood movies, but they are becoming more eager to see their national products. Thus, the recent film Monster Hunt grossed $380 million, which is a significant achievement as the most successful American movie Avatar grossed $760 million in the USA.
Importantly, the Chinese government, as well as various companies, invest into the development of the entertainment industry especially when it comes to filmmaking. For instance, the Chinese company Perfect World Pictures made a deal with Universal Pictures concerning co-financing a number of movies. The Dalian Wanda Group, the Chinese company, bought Legendary Entertainment that is responsible for such successful Hollywood franchises as Batman (China’s film industry, 2016). One of the Chinese leading broadcasters, Hunan TV, closely cooperating with Lionsgate investing into the filmmaking.
As has been mentioned above, Chinese companies invest into the Taiwanese economy. Specific attention is paid to the Taiwanese media. Chinese business people invest in or even take complete control over Taiwanese broadcasting companies (Bush, 2013). The control over media enables the Chinese to exercise the soft power to the fullest as they may affect the media environment of the country. Such media broadcast Chinese films, TV shows, and other products. Chinese pop music is also broadcast through radio stations and music channels. Chinese celebrities often visit Taiwan to promote their songs, videos, movies and so on. Taiwanese viewers become exposed to Chinese products that become more and more popular.
China Entertainment Diplomacy
Chinese Movies and Dramas
Clearly, the heavy investment has a number of goals. Economic gains are only some of them. It is possible to state that Beijing employs the entertainment diplomacy to develop the cross-strait relations. This type of diplomacy involves the promotion of the Chinese pop culture (as well as contemporary values) through movies and songs. It is necessary to note that Chinese movies of the middle of the 20th century were highly politicized and promoted the Communist ideology (China’s film industry, 2016). Modern pop culture is not as ideologically loaded.
It is even possible to add that it promotes some democratic values. For instance, the principles articulated by President Hu Jintao can be traced in Chinese movies (Chan, 2013). At the same time, the mainland’s pop culture promotes the Chinese culture as well as the Chinese model. The modernity of the mainland is shown in a very favorable way, which aims at creating the necessary image of the country in the international arena.
These efforts proved to be successful as the Chinese movies are becoming more popular domestically and abroad (China’s film industry, 2016). Films are produced in English and Mandarin, which facilitates the products’ popularity abroad. Taiwan is one of the regions where Chinese films and media products are quite popular. Clearly, the collaboration of the Chinese and Hollywood companies have led to the creation of various products aimed at the Chinese or Asian viewer. Numerous Hollywood celebrities starred in films aimed at revealing and promoting the Chinese culture and values. Such stars as Leonardo DiCaprio, Harrison Ford, Matt Damon and many others make films that become an instrument of the Chinese soft power. These movies appeal to the Taiwanese viewer as well.
It is necessary to note that Chinese movies have become of high-quality, which contributes to their popularity. They are often put in line with Hollywood films that are still regarded as the models. The collaboration with Hollywood movie production companies has played a significant role in the development of the Chinese cinematography. It is necessary to note that Chinese movies are often concerned with history, which has a double effect on the Taiwanese.
On the one hand, the Chinese movies tell stories of the Chinese past (which is often common with the Taiwanese cultural background). The most recurrent themes in such products are the greatness of the Chinese culture as well as the country. The imperial past is often revealed in a way to stress the common roots rather than the power of the mainland and dependence of such territories as Taiwan and Hong Kong (Greene, 2014). For instance, such highly influential and popular worldwide films as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), House of Flying Daggers (2004), Her (2002), The Curse of the Golden Flower (2006) focus on universal issues (Greene, 2014). These issues include love and duty, revenge and betrayal, friendship and honor.
The imperial past is used as the background, not the central theme, which makes the movies so popular in the mainland China as well as Taiwan. The colorful images based on Chinese as well as Asian values are clear and appealing to many. Many Taiwanese people want to associate themselves with the glorious past that is so deeply rooted in their mindsets. The historical load seemingly makes the films ideology-free but invites viewers to explore the old and new China.
Chinese dramas also tend to address the historical past. For instance, “Legend of Zhen Huan” is a popular drama in both Beijing and Taipei. The drama focuses on the period of the Qing Dynasty. The viewers follow the intrigues of the imperial court that seem to have no connection with the present. Dou (2013) stresses that popularity of such dramas and TV products is also explained by the participation of Taiwanese celebrities in various Chinese projects. Another TV series highly popular in the mainland and Taiwan is “The Scarlet Heart” that also focuses on the period of Qing Dynasty (Lin, 2014).
Chinese TV Shows and Music
Thus, on the other hand, Taiwanese viewers become fascinated with these stories and eager to know more about the contemporary mainland China (Hieu, 2013). This information is often taken from movies concerning the Chinese modernity. TV shows and dramas are often the sources of information for Taiwanese people, especially those who have not traveled to the mainland China.
Pop music is another aspect that earns an infectious popularity in Taiwan. Such singers as Zhou Bichang or Weng Feng are extremely popular among young Chinese people in the mainland as well as Taiwan. The modern Chinese pop music is associated with freedom and new ways, which appeals to the younger generations. Some of these performers are characterized by some westernized features, which is a common phenomenon for the mainland’s and Taiwanese pop culture. It is possible to state that it is another mutual ground. The desire to combine western ways and Asian peculiarities unites performers as well as viewers in Beijing and Taipei.
Singers from the mainland give concerts in Taiwan. However, the Internet is the most potent channel of the spread of the Chinese pop music. Thus, Xiang (2016) stresses that various Chinese companies and conglomerates entered the market of concert streaming several years ago. The business includes online video websites, music streaming services, broadcasting services, music labels and so on. For instance, Tencent Video can already boast with millions of viewed videos (Xiang, 2016). Such social services as Momo or YY also contribute to the popularity of the Chinese pop music in the region.
Importantly, many of these resources are free of charge, which makes them attractive in the period of financial constraints in both states. Chinese pop music penetrates into every Taiwanese household. People do not have to spend time and money to listen to the Chinese music. It can be often more difficult to find purely Taiwanese products in this market due to the abundance of the mainland’s pop music.
TV products are often closely connected with pop music as many TV shows are concerned with singing. Thus, many Taiwanese people (mainly older generations) fear that the focus on the mainland’s TV shows may turn the Taiwanese youth into the followers of the mainland’s values. For example, such Chinese shows as “Supergirl” and “I Am a Singer” are highly popular in Taiwan (Dou, 2013). Importantly, the people cross-strait movement contributed to the popularity of mainland TV show. Students who come back from their studies in the mainland ‘inflict’ their obsession with the mainland TV shows on their peers in Taiwan. Interestingly, “I Am a Singer” has become widely popular in Taiwan as four out of the finalists of the show were Taiwanese (Dou, 2013).
As for talk shows, the situation is quite similar. Chinese talk shows are broadcast via various channels often owned or financed by Chinese companies. They are also available online through the channels mentioned above. “Happy Camp” is extremely popular across the mainland as well as Taiwan. It is broadcast through Hunan TV, which is available to viewers from the mainland and Taiwan. This variety show features various celebrities from the mainland and Taiwan, which makes it even more popular on the island.
“KangXi Lai Le” is an interesting illustration of the cross-strait culture. The TV show is Taiwanese as it is produced in Taiwan by a Taiwanese company and Taiwanese celebrities. At the same time, the TV show often features guests from the mainland. The discussion of various (often controversial) topics makes the product highly popular across the region (Dou, 2013). Viewers from the mainland and Taiwan watch the show through TV and online channels. Clearly, such TV shows as “The Voice” can also be regarded as a uniting bridge between the two states. “The Voice of China” is the Chinese version of the popular TV show where people from the mainland China and Taiwan participate. The TV show is popular among Chinese and Taiwanese audiences since people may vote for and support their favorite performers.
These TV shows, pop music and movies have become a sound platform for the development of the cross-strait relations. People in the two states form a common popular culture based on common values. Taiwanese people (especially younger generations) become more interested in the history of the mainland China and start learning more about the Chinese culture and history rather than Taiwanese. The most potent instrument used is the focus on universal values and interests of people across the region. These involve personal freedom, paying tribute to the heritage, remembrance of the glorious past, hopes for the bright future, financial wellbeing, and so on.
People do not want any ideology as they have become quite wearied of politics and ideologies during the past six decades. They want to feel freer, and they often strive for entertainment. Movies, dramas, music and TV shows give people of the mainland and Taiwan what they want. They can relax and have fun without focusing on the tension between the states. This trend shows that the Chinese soft power and its components (cultural and entertainment diplomacy).
Conclusion and Comments
To sum up, it is necessary to note that the cross-strait relations are characterized by a significant degree of controversy. One the one hand, the relations between the two states is still quite tense. Throughout the second part of the 20th century, the two states claimed their legacy and their being the righteous representatives and heirs of China. The Communist party that overtook the country made other political elites flee, and Taiwan was the last resort for these forces. Both states did not recognize each other up to the 1990s. Taiwan was in a more difficult situation as it did not gain recognition in the world arena. China also used hard power and advocated further isolation of Taiwan.
The 1992 Consensus became the background for the development of certain cross-strait relations. It enabled the two states to develop economic, financial and cultural ties. Business people, professionals and students could travel across the borders, which led to the development of closer links between the two states. After some years of cool relations during Chen’s presidency, the ruling elites of Beijing and Taipei achieved certain consensus as they both wanted to maintain the existing status quo. The Chinese President Hu Jintao and the Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou shared the opinion that the two states needed each other to develop their economies as well as societies.
This consensus also led to the Chinese focus on the soft power. Liberalization of the economic and financial spheres led to the increased cross-strait movement of people. Chinese educational establishments as well as numerous companies have been established in Taiwan. Beijing started paying more attention to the so-called cultural and entertainment diplomacy as well. Various exhibitions of Chinese provinces art have made Taiwanese people more interested in the mainland’s culture. At the same time, such products as pop music, movies, TV dramas and TV shows have played an important role in the strengthening of the relations between the two states.
Interestingly, these products can be divided into two major groups that address different spheres of people’s consciousness. Movies and TV dramas often focus on the glorious past of China. Those are stories from the imperial past of China. Importantly, there is no focus on particular political agendas as such values as respect, honor, compassion, and selflessness are promoted. These values are common for people of the mainland and Taiwan.
The movies are aimed at the creation of the sense of integrity. At the same time, pop music and TV shows appeal to younger generations and their strive for freedom and future. The youth in both states wants to feel free and empowered, and pop music, as well as TV shows, bring the sense of freedom and empowerment. These are the platforms for new ideas and discussion of controversial issues as well as looking for the points to connect to each other.
The use of media in the use of the entertainment diplomacy is of the paramount importance. Chinese conglomerates invest (or own) numerous broadcasting channels employed to broadcast Chinese media products. The Internet has become the platform of specific freedom as various programs and movies can be seen online free of charge. The abundance of Chinese products has had a significant effect on Taiwanese people’s minds. The Taiwanese (especially youth) are more ready to accept the idea of the common cultural heritage. This kind of sentiment can lead to the creation of the background for the reunification of the mainland and Taiwan.
It is rather premature to state that the entertainment diplomacy has shaped the Taiwanese identity and made Taiwanese people forget about its independence sentiment. Nonetheless, it definitely makes the Chinese concept seem less hostile and more attractive. It is possible to claim that the Chinese use of soft power is likely to be successful in the long run. However, it is still necessary to note that economic issues and considerable differences in the political agendas can pose threats to the development of closer ties between the two states.
Bush, R.C. (2013). Uncharted strait: The future of China-Taiwan relations. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press. Web.
Cabestan, J.P. (2011). Taiwan’s political development and US-China relations. In C. Lin & D. Roy (Eds.), The future of United States, China, and Taiwan relations (pp. 13-28). New York, NY: Springer. Web.
Chan, G. (2013). “Diplomatic truce” in cross-strait relations: Limits and prospects. In New dynamics in cross-Taiwan straits relations: How far can the rapprochement go? (pp. 97-115). New York, NY: Routledge. Web.
Chen, C.F.F. (2015). The social basis of Taiwan’s cross-strait policies, 2008-2014. In G. Schubert (Ed.), Taiwan and the ‘China impact’: Challenges and opportunities (pp. 151-173). New York, NY: Routledge. Web.
China’s film industry: A blockbuster in the making. (2016). Web.
Desideri, N. (2013). Bubble pop: An analysis of Asian pop culture and soft power potential. Res Publica – Journal of Undergraduate Research, 18(1), 43-62. Web.
Dou, E. (2013). Taiwan’s troublesome obsession with Chinese TV show. The Wall Street Journal. Web.
Gienow-Hecht, J.C.E., & Donfried, M.C. (2013). The model of cultural diplomacy: Power, distance, and the promise of civil society. In J.C.E. Gienow-Hecht & M.C. Donfried (Eds.), Searching for a cultural diplomacy (pp. 13-33). New York, NY: Berghahn Books. Web.
Greene, N. (2014). From Fu Manchu to Kung Fu Panda: Images of China in American film. Hong Kong, China: Hong Kong University Press. Web.
Hieu, T. (2013). Korean, Chinese movies blight on local TV. VietNam News. Web.
Kitsou, S. (2013). The power of culture in diplomacy: The case of US cultural diplomacy in France and Germany. Exchange: The Journal of Public Diplomacy, 2(3), 21-39. Web.
Lee, S.J. (2011). The Korean Wave: The Seoul of Asia. The Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications, 2(1), 85-93. Web.
Lin, S.S. (2013). National identity, economic interdependence, and Taiwan’s cross-strait policy: The case of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement. In New dynamics in cross-Taiwan straits relations: How far can the rapprochement go? (pp. 31-47). New York, NY: Routledge. Web.
Lin, X. (2014). Top 10 popular Chinese TV dramas overseas. Web.
Nye, J.S. (2005). Soft power: The means to success in world politics. New York, NY: Public Affairs. Web.
Pellatt, V., Liu, E.T., & Chen, Y.Y.Y. (2014). Translating Chinese culture: The process of Chinese-English translation. New York, NY: Routledge. Web.
Rawnsley, G.D. (2014). Taiwan’s soft power and public diplomacy. Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, 3(1), 161-174. Web.
Strained circumstances. (2015). The Economist. Web.
Su, C. (2008). Taiwan’s relations with mainland China: A tail wagging two dogs. New York, NY: Routledge. Web.
Sui, C. (2010). Music bridges the political divide between China and Taiwan. The New York Times. Web.
Tok, S.K. (2013). Managing China’s sovereignty in Hong Kong and Taiwan. New York, NY: Springer. Web.
Wei, C.X.G. (2012). Introduction: The Taiwan issue and the Taiwan factor: Studying cross-strait relations within the global context. In C.X.G. Wei (Ed.), China-Taiwan relations in a global context: Taiwan’s foreign policy and relations (pp. 1-13). New York, NY: Routledge. Web.
Weidong, Z. (2015). An assessment of the political situation in Taiwan and the status of cross-strait relations. In International strategic relations and China’s national security (pp. 235-263). Danvers, MA: World Scientific. Web.
Xiang, T. (2016). Live concert streaming is taking off in China. Technode. Web.