Feb 19, 2013

Taiwan: Cultural Award Ceremony

On the 18th of February the Culture Minister of Taiwan co-hosted the Taiwan-France Cultural Award ceremony in Paris. 

Below is an article published by Focus Taiwan

Taiwan's Culture Minister Lung Ying-tai co-hosted the Taiwan-France Cultural Award ceremony in Paris Monday (18 February 2013) and honored three individuals who have enhanced cultural exchanges between Taiwan and Europe.

The three winners this year were French sinologists Angel Pino and his wife Isabelle Rabut and Philippe Paquet, a Belgian expert on cross-Taiwan Strait issues.

The award was jointly set up by Taiwan's Council for Cultural Affairs -- which preceded the Ministry of Culture -- and the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences under the Institut de France in 1996.

In her address recognizing the winners, Lung touted the common cultural ideals shared by the two countries.

Despite political changes since its inception in 1635, the French academy has maintained a core focus of "language, literature, and culture," Lung said.

Similarly, Taiwan is the place within the Chinese-speaking world that attaches the greatest importance to language, literature and culture, she said, which is why it was no coincidence that the works of Gao Xingjian, the Nobel literature laureate in 2000, were published exclusively in Taiwan.

Thus, Lung described the award's historical significance as "commitment to language, sincerity toward literature and faith in culture" along with the pursuit of some core values.

Lung said that for over six decades, from the Chinese Civil War to the Cold War, Taiwan has been like a tightrope walker, with culture the balancing pole carried by the country for its survival.

During that time, Taiwan has developed a bona fide civil society and a culture with unique attributes in the Chinese world, and it has generated an ideal blend of traditional Chinese culture and the values of modern democracy, she said.

For that culture to be recognized, however, it had to be made visible, said Xavier Darcos, the academy's perpetual secretary.

The purpose of setting up the award was to enable France and Europe to learn more about Taiwan and its culture, and the establishment of the Taiwan Cultural Center and Taiwan-France Cultural Foundation also contributed to the cause.

"We are happy that the profile has finally come after 17 years," he said.

In introducing the winning French couple, Darcos praised them for adopting a progressive approach in raising French awareness of Taiwanese history.

A biography of Madame Chiang Kai-shek authored by Paquet, for example, analyzed in detail an important part of Taiwan's history, he said.

The three winners pledged to dedicate themselves further to raising Taiwan's profile in Europe.

Pino and Rabut, who are currently working on an anthology of Taiwanese short stories and novels, said French higher education circles, especially among Ph.D. students, have developed "Taiwanese literature fever."

It was a trend they were happy about because of the rich themes and language found in Taiwanese writings.

Their only ambition, they said, is to "play the role of one of the original planters of Taiwanese literature seeds that are bound to bloom and bear fruit in France some day."

Paquet stressed that winning the award has only strengthened his curiosity about Taiwan, and he vowed to continue his research.