When I told people that I was travelling to Taiwan for a week, I got these reactions:
- “Wow, you are so adventurous!”
- “Be careful and safe! Watch you are going. Put your money in your shoe!”
The experience of being in Taiwan was just amazing though; all that pessimism completely washed away once I was there. I really enjoyed the people, the food, the art/architecture, the music, the language. It was a completely different world that I was used to growing up in that I completely embraced, and feel compelled to share this experience to the world.
At the same time, for those people who have never been exposed to China / Taiwan, or have been exposed to a lot of the negative images (i.e. in PRC: Corruption, air pollution, food safety, huge wealth gap), these places may seem a bit scary to even visit for the foreigner When I met one traveler abroad, he felt that going to China for traveling would be like the “Wild, Wild West”.
The thing is, while we cannot, as the media, wear rose-colored glasses completely at a country like China, which still has a lot of problems, I believe that the media can play a positive role in showing images, mediums, music, films, art, which can appeal to a wider audience and allow viewers from the outside learn more about another country’s culture.
South Korea for example, has done a great job using soft power (K Dramas, Kpop) to bring people to want to learn the language, sing the language, visit Korea, learn about Korean food, etc. While it’s not perfect, it is a step in bringing different people together from all around the world.
For me, the image of China that I want to see broken down is that Chinese society is not creative; they are the factory of the world and they are known for mass production. This is false:
Above: Sean Leow of Neocha on Creativity In China.
In a time where the strongest relationships, ability to be comfortable with different types of people, learning from different professions, ability to work in a team, are needed to solve the world’s toughest challenges and problems (i.e. global warming), I believe that:
We cannot under-estimate the role of soft power to build trust, empathy between different cultures. Whether it be through art, television, movies, music, or other forms of medium, regardless of how awesome your idea is, if your team cannot work together well, an idea will not go through.