1. President's remarks
I am delighted to meet here at the Presidential Office Building with the members of the Overseas Chinese Women Writers Association. Your presence here first thing on Monday morning adds an unmistakable note of cultural refinement to the atmosphere.
You are all veteran authors from Taiwan or mainland China who have resided overseas for over 20 years, and have continued with your craft in your adopted lands. While some of you have careers unrelated to literature, you still use your spare time to pen new works. You have shared your observations of life overseas, and more importantly, you have continued while living overseas to play a major role in passing along the legacy of Chinese culture. Your outstanding works have been very well received both within the Chinese-speaking world and beyond, and for that we hold you in the greatest respect.
The Overseas Chinese Women Writers Association was founded 21 years ago by over 20 overseas women writers. The founding group included Chen Ruo-xi, who is with us here today, as well as Yu Lihua and the late Qi Jun. All of them were already very famous writers at that time. The association presently has over 200 members from the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania.
Publishing houses in Taiwan and overseas place great importance on the literature produced by the organization's members, including Chen Ruo-xi's 歸 (The Way Back), Shi Shuqing's 維多利亞俱樂部 (Victoria Club), and Ping Lu's 何日君再來 (When Will You Come Again?). These novels have been translated into many languages, helping to expose people in other places to Chinese culture. I hope that you will take advantage of this visit to Taiwan to catch up on current events in recent years and to share your insights with the global ethnic Chinese community through your works.
Since taking office two-and-a-half years ago, I have attached great importance to cultural pursuits. This past May 19th, the day before the second anniversary of my inauguration, I put forward my idea of "six steps to a better Taiwan," which I suggested would pave the way to a "golden decade" moving forward. These six steps are: first, to strengthen the country through innovation; second, to revive the country by promoting culture; third, to stabilize the country by adhering to the constitution; fourth, to save the country through environmental protection; fifth, to secure the country by providing social services; and sixth, to protect the country by promoting peace. I chose "reviving the country by promoting culture" as the second of these steps mainly because I've noticed that over the last 60 years and more, Taiwan has developed a "Chinese culture with Taiwan characteristics," which manifests itself in the performing arts, cuisine, and religion.
Take the Pili style of televised glove puppetry, for example. It has combined modern technology with traditional glove puppet theater, creating totally new lighting and sound effects. The audiences, ranging from senior citizens to children of all ages, simply love it. I also remember the Taipei Beef Noodle Festival that was first held five years ago when I was Taipei City mayor. Today this event has expanded and become the Taipei International New Row Mian Festival. The story of beef noodles is an interesting one. The dish is a real crowd pleaser, but they don't even have it in mainland China, nor does its history in Taiwan date so far back. The reason for this is that many older people in Taiwan do not eat beef. The dish only began to take root and gain popularity here after the ROC government moved to Taiwan in 1949. Research indicates that beef noodles originated in villages for retired soldiers and their families. If you want to eat this type of beef noodles in the mainland, you have to specifically order "Taiwan" beef noodles, otherwise you will get something different. Similarly, Buddhism has a history dating back nearly 2,000 years in mainland China, but its development in Taiwan over the past six decades or so gives Buddhism here a different face than you will see elsewhere. Organizations such as Tzu Chi Foundation, Buddha's Light International Association, Dharma Drum Mountain, Ling Jiou Mountain Buddhist Society, and Chung Tai Chan Monastery are all very active in society and have adopted management practices from the business world to run their organizations. Each has specific objectives and strategies, and the Buddhist monks and nuns who head the organizations function much like corporate CEOs. All of these organizations also have recruited enormous numbers of volunteers, as volunteerism is a prominent feature of their activities. What's more, they are all international in nature, having established a presence in all five continents and attracted many overseas devotees. This is something that you would not have seen in mainland China in the past. Taiwan's prosperity, freedom and democracy have enabled a civil society to take root. All of these examples point to a Chinese culture with Taiwan characteristics.