Taiwan’s soft power: “Taiwan Academy” in Sinology Promotion

Sinology has become a new strength of soft power to add luster to Taiwan’s appeal. Especially due to Taiwan preservation of traditional characters, while holding the most democratic, diversified culture and education system. During the last years a soaring number of foreigners desired to go to Taiwan for studying Chinese or do research related to Sinology. How does Taiwan attract foreigners to come to Taiwan, and how does Taiwan promote its sinology studies abroad even facing its diplomacy difficulties? In this article its propsed an analysis of the background, development and implication of “Taiwan Academy” project.

Taiwan’s soft power: “Taiwan Academy” in Sinology Promotion - GEOPOLITICA.info

In order to promote Taiwan’s Chinese culture around the world, the Republic of China (Taiwan) government established the Taiwan Academy in three cities, L.A., Houston and New York, in October 2011. Taiwan Academy is to present and spread Taiwan’s achievements in Taiwan Studies and Sinological research under the result of democracy, freedom and economic development, Taiwan wishes to re-gain the role of main hub of Chinese cultural studies.

Taiwan Academy was established only in January 2008, when President MaYing-jeou was running for the Presidency of the Republic. During the campaign he declared that he would promote culture and introduce a culturally-centered global layout, emphasizing that culture would be a key strength of Taiwan, and claiming that only by bringing culture into the diplomacy Taiwan would be seen in the world. Ma believed that Taiwan experienced stable development of democracy, freedom and economy after 60 years, becoming a mature global Chinese culture center. Indeed, Taiwan has been able to preserve Confucian, Buddhist, and Zen literature, architecture, crafts, traditional folk customs, showing a unique capacity of maintaining this cultural heritage, especially if compared with other Chinese-speaking countries. From here, then, has born the necessity to set up a systematic cooperation with European and American countries, by exchanging and diffusing professional courses in philosophy, literature, and art, in order to not only expand the cultural market, but also foster Taiwan’s international image. Therefore, during Ma administration, the Taiwan Academy was established in the United States in October 2011 as an important medium for Taiwanese culture to interact with the international community and to make the international understanding of Taiwan’s comprehensive development achievements.

Compared with the Confucius Institute, which focuses on Chinese teaching and promotion, the Taiwan Academy is based on Taiwan’s traditional characters promoted as irreplaceable advantages. Furthermore, through Taiwan’s advanced information and digital technology, Taiwan Academy constructed an information integration platform that represents the multifaceted characteristics of Chinese culture.
The specific implementation for Taiwan Academy included:
– Set up Taiwan digital information integration platform to serve global network users;
– Promotion of traditional Chinese characters;
– Proactively promote Taiwan research and Sinology research;
– Set up Taiwan Academy scholarships;
– Introduce a diverse and exquisite Taiwanese culture to the world;
– Establish a Taiwan Academy foundation base and contact point.

Due to the late start, the number achieved by the Taiwan academy are still lagging behind those of the Confucius Institutes. However, in Chinese textbooks and teaching methods, Taiwan’s Chinese language education is very diverse and open, which is a lot easier to bridge with the international education. All these aspects become easy to recognize if contrasted to Confucius center methods, where students need to undergo the inflexible way of learning – most of time with a more explicit political content, rather than based on traditional Chinese culture.

The Taiwan Academy main purpose is to spread the achievements of Sinology in Taiwan over the last 60 years, and it cooperate with the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange, the National central Library Center for Chinese studies, and domestic universities. For this reason Taiwan Academy has shown to be more advanced than the Confucius Institute, especially on the Digital Collection and digital learning of national technology projects. This aspects have been crucial to promote Taiwan’s open society and advanced software development achievements, digital information technology and the integration between the most profound aspects pf Chinese culture with Taiwan’s professional and rich digital database, providing scholars and experts’ interest and needs with no bounds.

Even the Taiwan Academy was established seven years later than the Confucius Institute, it has a post-development advantage given by learning from the mistakes and shortcomings of the Confucius Institute, and use the promotion of Sinology research and the digital resources to foster its networking. Taiwan Academy devote to strengthening the connection with academic center all over the world, and promoting international Sinology and Taiwan studies to be seen in the world.

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